Crosstown High (XTH) will be a public charter school, opening in August 2018 with approximately 125 9th graders, and ultimately serving 500 students in grades 9-12. It will be located inside Crosstown Concourse, a landmark adaptive reuse development project in the city center.

Crosstown High will prepare students for college, career, and life through personalized learning plans and project-based learning; exposure to a diverse community; and critical relationships with our community partners in Crosstown Concourse and beyond.

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What is Crosstown High?

Crosstown High (XTH) will be a public school, opening in August 2018 with approximately 125 9th graders, and ultimately serving 500 students in grades 9-12. It will be located inside the Crosstown Concourse, a landmark adaptive reuse development project in the city center.

Crosstown High will prepare students for college, career, and life through personalized learning plans and project-based learning; exposure to a diverse community; and critical relationships with our community partners in Crosstown Concourse and beyond.

Who's behind Crosstown High?

The school’s vision has come from a large and diverse team of local parents, students, educators, and other stakeholders. They continue to be involved as key contributors in the ongoing development of the school.

The details of the school are still coming together and over the course of the next year, as the school prepares to open, this team, the Board of Directors, and others will continue to gather ideas from the community about the shape and direction of our school. Crosstown High will be what we make it together.

Crosstown High, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that has been approved by Shelby County Schools to operate a high school at Crosstown Concourse. The board of Crosstown High, Inc. consists of the following people:

  • Meg Crosby is principal at PeopleCap Advisors and a parent.
  • Jane Hankins is a physician researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and a parent.
  • Justin Jamerson is a business development consultant for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
  • Charles McKinney is an associate professor and director of the Africana Studies Program at Rhodes College and a parent.
  • Michelle McKissack is a freelance media consultant and a parent.
  • Gary Shorb is chief executive officer of Methodist Lebonheur Healthcare.
  • John Smarrelli is president of Christian Brothers University and chair of the CHS board.
  • Monica Wharton is chief legal officer and general counsel for Regional One Health and a parent.

We have recently hired an outstanding Executive Director, who will help hire the rest of our faculty and staff. We are currently looking for a Principal.

Why put a high school in Crosstown Concourse?

Actually, there are three reasons:

  • The demand for great schools is strong — and only getting stronger. While the city of Memphis has declined in population over the last decade, our Downtown and Midtown ZIP codes are growing — a trend that is projected to continue for the foreseeable future. We think the time has come for Shelby County Schools to offer another high-quality public high school for families in our city center. The immediate success of Midtown’s Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, a small student-centered school, has proven that both parents and students are hungry for more of these types of intimate education opportunities and their willingness to invest in newly created Shelby County Schools.
  • The context of the Concourse. Crosstown Concourse is a vertical village anchored in arts, education, and healthcare. Tenants include world-class organizations like Methodist Healthcare, Christian Brothers University, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis Teacher Residency, Church Health Center, and Crosstown Arts. XTH will offer young people an incredible opportunity to learn alongside professionals from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds, in an environment unlike any other in the country. That learning will be a two-way street — we expect our students’ fresh ideas and youthful perspectives to illuminate the work going on in Crosstown Concourse every day.
  • Classrooms without limits. This one of a kind learning environment includes the physical space of the school itself. Instead of trying to fit an innovative high school concept into an existing school building, Crosstown Concourse offers a blank slate. Together, we can design a one-of-a-kind place for students that gives them limitless possibilities for collaboration, skills development, and learning.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Students have told us that they want to see real-world connections to what they are learning in school. They want to do something meaningful with their new knowledge and skills. They want to follow their passions and make a positive difference in their community. We believe that project-based learning empowers them to do that.

Our faculty and students will work closely with each other and with our partners in Crosstown Concourse and beyond to ensure that lessons are being brought to life every day. Students may connect science and writing in the design of a wellness campaign for the Church Health Center. They may demonstrate how history intersects with modern life in Memphis through an art installation created in conjunction with Crosstown Arts. All of the work going on within Crosstown Concourse becomes an opportunity for students to learn and contribute.

What is a Personalized Learning Plan?

We believe that no two students will have the same path to success. So, every Crosstown High student will have a personalized learning plan (PLP) which will help them chart a path to learn not only foundational concepts in math, science, and English, but also the life skills that will help ensure success in whatever challenges they face.

What’s more, every student will have the opportunity to learn in ways that fit him or her best — be that direct instruction from a teacher, accessing content online, or taking part in peer tutoring. Both personal guidance from advisors and technology tools will help students set learning goals and track their progress.

What about electives and extracurriculars?

Two-week long elective courses will allow XTH students to deeply explore areas of particular interest. Extracurricular opportunities, such as arts, music, athletics and internships — all driven by student interest — will give students unlimited opportunities to pursue their passions.

How will Crosstown High prepare my child for college and beyond?

Crosstown High will have to meet the same requirements as every other public school in the state, with the same type of core class offerings in English, math, science, and social studies. Our personalized learning model will offer students opportunities to explore their personal passions in depth, creating well-rounded, curious, lifetime learners.

Today, colleges are looking beyond transcripts to find students who know themselves and are passionate about contributing to the world. Crosstown High graduates will be ready.

What is the XQ Super Schools Project? What is its connection to Crosstown High School?

The XQ Super Schools Project is a national contest to design the high school of the future. The XQ Project urges applicants to design an educational experience that will create “XQ Learners,” — agile and flexible learners who are prepared for a more connected world, a rapidly changing future, and a lifetime of learning. Winning school design teams will receive $10 million to execute their visions.

In the fall of 2015, a diverse group of more than fifty parents, students, educators and other community stakeholders organized a team in Memphis to take part in the XQ design process and create an ambitious vision for Crosstown High School. To date, the team has interviewed or surveyed almost 200 local students, dozens of parents, educators from thirteen local public and private schools, representatives from Crosstown Concourse’s future tenants, and other stakeholders. They gave crucial insights about what’s working in local education, where things can be improved, and what skills young people need to be ready for college, career, and life. The Memphis XQ team’s school design emerged directly from this extensive community input process. The team was excited to learn in April 2016 that it had advanced on to the semifinal round of the XQ competition and in July was named a finalist.

Success in the XQ contest would of course be hugely positive for the school, but regardless of the outcome, the XTH board is committed to raising the funds necessary to ensure a world-class high school education.

How will this impact other nearby public high schools?

Crosstown High will be small compared to other district high schools, with a total 9-12 enrollment of only 500 students. Because Crosstown High is intended to be a uniquely diverse learning community, we will seek to draw a wide range of students, such that no one school will be disproportionately affected.

Who will attend XTH and how will you ensure a diverse student body?

Our goal is to ensure that our student body is thoroughly representative of our city’s demographics. Crosstown High will not be a one-size-fits-all solution for all parents or students — it will be a unique opportunity for families who are open to an innovative, rigorous model for education in a uniquely diverse environment. Application details will be widely publicized as soon as they are available. In the meantime, let us know you’re interested in hearing from us.

What happens next?

The Crosstown High development team is in the process of hiring leaders, building out the school’s physical space within Crosstown Concourse, and researching innovative school models around the country. We will also continue to solicit the input of stakeholders to ensure that Crosstown High is the school that Memphis students need. Please join our mailing list to stay on top of the latest news. Contact us.

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From Justin Jamerson, member of the Crosstown High Board of Directors and participant in the Memphis XQ Super Schools Challenge: Today it was announced that Crosstown High’s application for the…

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