Need Memphis school advice
July 18, 2012 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Located in the Memphis, TN area my spouse and I are struggling with finding the right school structure for our young son, who will be starting 1st grade in a few years. We both want him to be in an environment that teaches children HOW to learn and HOW to find the answers, not just repetition and memorization but critical thinking at a place that doesn't require a declaration of our religious beliefs.

We have found one school who uses the Socratic method, but it is strongly Christian based and another school for Jewish children only. While neither of us have any issue with Christianity or Judaism, we feel religion should be practiced at home with tolerance and acceptance - and tolerance and acceptance in turn should be supported by school/community.
I know, I am living in a dream world.
So all-in all a religious based school would be ok, if we don't have to make some declaration about our faith to be accepted.
Being from Memphis, I know that I live in the Bible-belt.
With NCLB and the size of both the city and county school systems, we know that these schools cannot support classical learning but have to prepare students to score well on tests.
Are there any small public schools or non-religious private schools in the Memphis-area that have the time to teach students HOW to find the answers and HOW to use deduction to figure out the answers vs. memorizing what is required?
(Also, schools we are considering, and would love more feedback about: Campus School
Richland Elementary)
posted by flesti to Education (12 answers total)
It's not uncommon for non-religious people to go to religious schools. Many of them do not even strictly require attendance at prayer sessions if the student does not practice the school's religion. If the religion aspect is the only thing stopping you, speak to admissions counselors at the school(s) and ask them about this.
posted by imagineerit at 2:57 PM on July 18, 2012

Is there a Quaker/Friends school in the area? Your search sounds a lot like mine was (though I'm in MA), and if you had told me 10 years ago my kids would be in a school associated with any religion I would have laughed. But I've been beyond pleased with the Quaker K-8 school my rising 2nd grader attends. I've learned about many of the upper grades from both other attending parents and non-attenders, and across the board people are impressed.

That said, I know formats for Meetings vary regionally and as a result a southern Quaker school may be more overtly religious than I would have been happy with. But just another avenue to explore.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:07 PM on July 18, 2012

I'm also in Memphis, and... this is not a good area for what you're seeking. Are you in the city, or in the 'burbs? The upcoming merger is surely flavoring your decision. Have you considered one of the area Montessori schools? I think that's where I would be putting my kid, if I weren't looking to leave Memphis as fast as possible once I'm done with my degree in December.

(I'm not aware of any Quaker schools in the area.)

The Campus School is going to be a good bet, from what I understand and have seen while walking to class.
posted by woodvine at 3:10 PM on July 18, 2012

Have you considered homeschooling? I know it's not what you asked, but it's the best schooling method I know to teach how to figure things out on your own, and on your own schedule. My parents did it for me and my brothers while both holding down professional jobs (this did involve getting babysat a few days a week by other people, sometimes other homeschooling moms).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 3:11 PM on July 18, 2012

Are there any Waldorf, Steiner or (even more rare) Montessori schools in your area?
posted by DarlingBri at 3:52 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lausanne might fit the bill if you can stomach the tuition. Montessori-influenced, with an IB program. I did not attend it, or the Campus School, but was friends with several kids who did, and they were happily nerdy and well-prepared for advanced and honors courses later both there and at schools like MUS, Christian Brothers, Hutchison, St. Mary's, and White Station.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:17 PM on July 18, 2012

I recommend you look at Lausanne, MUS, and St. George's Episcopal. Of the three, if money were no object, I'd choose St. George's as the best fit for your criteria.
posted by Mimzy at 5:47 PM on July 18, 2012

St. George's is a great school, and I think they're no longer religiously affiliated. (Disclaimer: two cousins went to St. George's, and my aunt is an upper school teacher there. I only know about it through them.)
posted by ocherdraco at 5:49 PM on July 18, 2012

There are several Montessori schools in Memphis. My experience with Threshold Montessori was all positive, but was also thirty years ago. I believe Campus School is hard to get in to, unless you are affiliated with U of M. I have several friends with kids in Peabody Elementary who seem incredibly enthusiastic about their experience. My kids grew up in Collierville, and our experience there was overall very good.
posted by raisingsand at 7:21 PM on July 18, 2012

My daughter went to Evergreen Montessori and we loved it. (we moved 4 years ago and she goes to a Montessori school in our new city.) Threshold was horrible. It had a good reputation but the founder was retired and it had turned into a daycare (me mail me if you want more info). We have friends whose kids go to Grace-St. Luke's and they really like it.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:47 PM on July 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all! I don't mind a simple religious affiliation, since I went to private Catholic schools here in Memphis myself. (The schools I went to were not very ethnically diversity, as is the case with most private schools.) There are a few programs we have found that are awesome, but they seriously ask you to declare your belief in X, Y or Z when you apply. I am not comfortable with that at all.
Lausanne seems great, but again, you are limiting your child to only be with a certain economic group.
Love Campus School (I was in educational research for a few years and we observed there often)! So, yes, b/c of my previous experience with the City and County schools when in educational research, I am a little underwhelmed. Both systems are way too big to be managed as well as they could be.
Ok, so yes Campus is great and so are some of the Montessori schools, but they are limited to grade school only - what do you do after 5th or 6th grade. The one Montessori in Memphis that goes beyond 6th grade is very limited in it's support of the working family, and doesn't offer any after-school programs. BTW, I went to Threshold a little over 30 years ago, too, and have fond memories, but it has changed ALOT as mentioned by dawkins_7.
I will check out St. George's - that is one that I don't know much about but have heard good things.
posted by flesti at 11:38 AM on July 23, 2012

I just saw this question, but I live in Memohis and I wanted to add that PDS might be what you're looking for. It's a great school with a great method, and very highly regarded around here for a reason.
posted by Kyrieleis at 8:08 PM on August 23, 2012

« Older How do I recognize people?   |   Need good ideas for a Group Reading Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.