For many parents, finding a school that prioritizes a child’s unique learning experience can be a challenge. After 15 years of teaching, Coi Morrison felt that schools were too “limited by bureaucracy, politics and money,” and set off to start her own.
The result? The Lab School of Memphis, an Acton Academy campus that launched in 2021 with six learners aged 4-6 years old. “We design learning experiences that are customized just for [our learners],” Morrison said.
The Lab School utilizes a Montessori-style approach, working in small groups of multi-aged children to promote learning in a hands-on setting. This “helps learners uncover their strengths and their interests, and find a calling,” Morrison said.
The school is tuition-based, and Morrison used VELA’s Micro grant to help lower costs and make the model more accessible. In addition, Morrison expanded programming options to include three summer camps: one focused on horseback riding, one focused on urban adventures, and one focused on entrepreneurship.
Across all of its offering, the school focuses on its core values of community, curiosity, calling, and change.
The school community lives up to these beliefs by incorporating a mixture of interactive technology, Socratic seminars, and project-based learning. They also utilize community partners to create “a rigorous and individualized learning environment that centers and affirms learner identity, strengths, and interests.” But The Lab School doesn’t just value academic success. “It is a program that puts equal weight on academics as well as mental, social, and emotional health,” says Morrison.
For the 2022-23 school year, the Lab School of Memphis plans to continue to grow, with the hope of serving 35 learners across 3-10 years old. In other words, Morrison and the Lab School are just getting started.
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