Southwest Partners With Artesian Schools to Increase Career Readiness and College Completion Rates

For more information, contact:
Robert Miller

The Shelby County Board of Education approved a new early college high school on August 23 that is a partnership between Artesian Schools, Inc. and Southwest Tennessee Community College. The school is part of both organizations' strategies to increase career readiness and college completion rates for Memphis students.

Southwest Early College High School will be locally-operated Artesian School's first charter school. The school plans to recruit and enroll 100 ninth graders for the 2017-2018 school year and each year thereafter.

With this partnership, students will graduate with a high school diploma from Southwest Early College High School and an associate degree, or up to 60 transferable college credit hours, from Southwest Tennessee Community College—at no cost to students. During their high school tenure, students will get hands-on work experience in career fields of their interests and also be trained in soft skills that will help with their workforce transition after completion of a degree.

"Southwest is dedicated to achieving student success," said Dr. Tracy D. Hall, president of Southwest Tennessee Community College. "Partnering with Artesian gives us an excellent opportunity to reach students earlier to help guide and prepare them for future educational and career opportunities."

Ninth and tenth graders will be housed at Southwest's Gill Center in Frayser, and their course of study will be focused on high school coursework and readiness to take college classes by their third year. Eleventh and twelfth graders will be housed at Southwest's Union Avenue campus. There, the students will take coursework that completes their high school diploma requirements, and they will also take college classes that work toward an associate degree.

Southwest's Gill Center

Southwest's Gill Center

"We are delighted to be joining forces with Southwest to offer Memphis students a clear path to strong post-secondary options," said Ashley Smith, CEO of Artesian Schools. "This partnership ensures that we will be able to provide both the academic and social-emotional supports necessary to help our students stay motivated and work hard to succeed."

Southwest Tennessee Community College's President, Dr. Tracy Hall, brings experience and a track record of success with early college high schools. As Associate Dean of Instruction at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley in Kansas City, MO., Dr. Hall collaborated with the Kansas City, MO district to develop the Early College Academy (ECA). The ECA is a program that gives motivated and qualified juniors and seniors an opportunity to earn both a high school and an associate's degree at the same time. The program has graduated three student cohorts. Also, as Vice-President for Academic Affairs at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, Dr. Hall worked with the St. Louis, MO Superintendent and his staff at their Beaumont High School, to develop an early college experience for its most recent senior class. Fifteen students graduated from high school with 18 college credits.

"Skeptics tend to doubt whether urban kids can withstand the rigor of early college coursework. My experiences have taught me that, with the right wrap-around support systems in place, and high expectations, young people can and will rise to the challenge," remarked Dr. Hall.

About Artesian

Great schools transform communities. Like the discovery of the artesian water that restored health to the city of Memphis during the Yellow Fever epidemic, Artesian Schools, Inc. will serve as a conduit to tap into already-existing community resources to revitalize Memphis neighborhoods.

Artesian envisions that its alums will return to their communities with a post-secondary education with tools, jobs, and the ability to positively impact their city. They will have the knowledge and networks to drive change locally. They will become influential community members and reinvest in their childhood community through job creation and contributing more money into the local economy.

About Southwest Tennessee Community College

Southwest Tennessee Community College is a comprehensive, multicultural, public, open-access college whose mission is to anticipate and respond to the educational needs of students, employers, and communities in Shelby and Fayette counties and the surrounding Mid-South region. The college provides citizens with an effective teaching and learning environment designed to raise educational levels, enhance economic development, and enrich personal lives. Southwest welcomes a diverse student population with a wide variety of backgrounds, abilities, interests, levels of education and economic circumstances. Southwest offers more than 100 programs of study that lead to multiple university transfer and career associated degrees; and numerous technical certificates. Southwest is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.

For More Information Contact:

Southwest Tennessee Community College: Robert Miller
Phone: 901-333-4368

Artesian Schools, Inc.: Ashley Smith
Phone: 901-300-0813