'Whitehaven Empowerment Zone' aims to improve five SCS schools

May 17th, 2016

By: Jason Miles, WMC Action News 5

There's a new plan by Shelby County Schools to empower Whitehaven area elementary and middle schools, and possibly keep the state from taking
over.

"I am a Whitehaven guy," Whitehaven High School principal Dr. Vincent Hunter said. "I love Whitehaven; I don't want anything else but Whitehaven."

Hunter helped introduce what’s being called the “Whitehaven Empowerment Zone.”

"When your boss gives you a deal you can't refuse, you don't refuse it,” Hunter said during a community meeting.

Hunter will head up the initiative beginning next school year. It’s aimed at improving culture, climate, and curriculum at these five schools:

  • Holmes Road ES
  • Manor Lake ES
  • Robert Church ES
  • Havenview MS
  • A. Maceo Walker MS

All of them currently rank in the bottom 10% of Tennessee schools academically. That makes state intervention a definite possibility.

"Is it a silver bullet?” asked Hunter. “No, it's not."

Hunter said schools in the zone will closely collaborate on academic strategies, much like the district's I-Zone schools currently operate.

"And parents, we can't do it without you," Hunter told the crowd.

Parent Jackie Latiker was already on board.

"I feel like it's building our kids up before they get to the high school level and we can deal with any issues that are already out there on
the table," said Latiker.

"Because at the end of the day, all of our children will make Memphis a better place," said Hunter.

If the "empowerment zone" idea works in Whitehaven, it could be instituted in other areas.

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Chris Xa

 I am a native Memphian with a unique passion for Economics. I am a proud son of immigrant parents. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD in Economics at the University of Memphis specializing in Labor Economic, Education Economics, and Econometric. I have the honor to serve Peer Power as a Doctoral Fellow, where I study education data and school environments to better help the kids we serve. My topics of research (both within and without of Peer Power) include: Labor policies within educational settings, Teacher incentive policies and retention rates, Human capital measures, and Public funding allocation efficiency. Outside of school and work I love to cook and cheer on our Memphis Grizzles.