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School starts early for incoming sixth graders at one Memphis charter school

In public schools across Memphis and Shelby County, school starts on Monday, Aug. 4. But at some schools, including the Soulsville Charter School, orientation for new students began in July.

Yesterday at Soulsville, incoming sixth graders were in uniform and in class as part of their orientation, which began on July 31.

A sixth grade orientation class at Soulsville charter school.
A sixth grade orientation class at Soulsville charter school.
J. Zubrzycki

Students haven’t started academic work; instead, they’re learning school policies and goals.

This student is snapping to commend a classmate for getting an answer right.
This student is snapping to commend a classmate for getting an answer right.
J. Zubrzycki
A Soulsville sixth grade classroom wall.
A Soulsville sixth grade classroom wall.
J. Zubrzycki

Soulsville teachers, like their peers across the city, were busy preparing their classes for the first day of school.

Teachers and staff are preparing the school for students’ first day – August 4.
Teachers and staff are preparing the school for students’ first day – August 4.
J. Zubrzycki

Soulsville, like many charter schools in the city, has decorated its walls with college banners. Many teachers’ classrooms are decorated with paraphernalia from the schools they attended. “The school starts from the assumption that students are going to college and works backwards to show how they’ll get there,” said Tim Sampson. The school, which is a nonprofit supported by the Soulsville Foundation, has a four-member team focused on getting students to college.

Seniors at the school each write and illustrate personal statements, which are displayed in the school’s college prep room.

Soulsville seniors write and illustrate personal statements before they graduate. They’re displayed in the college prep room.
Soulsville seniors write and illustrate personal statements before they graduate. They’re displayed in the college prep room.
J. Zubrzycki

Here, a teacher has displayed very specific goals for math achievement for his high schoolers. The school is open enrollment, but tends to have more applicants than it has spaces. Students are admitted via a lottery.

A set of class goals in a math classroom at Soulsville charter school.
A set of class goals in a math classroom at Soulsville charter school.
J. Zubrzycki

Of course, this school will look very different come Monday, when it is bustling with hundreds of middle and high schoolers rather than a few dozen sixth graders.

What is your school doing to get ready for the start of school?

A student at sixth grade orientation.
A student at sixth grade orientation.
J. Zubrzycki

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