National Family Engagement Fellowship

Memphis Team

Explore the Memphis Team’s findings, vision, and strategic plan, and get to know the people doing this powerful work for students and families in the Volunteer State.

Memphis Vision

Students are successful because trust is restored through open communication, welcoming and compassionate spaces, support for families, building real relationships, and honoring family voices in Family Centered Schools (FCS) across Tennessee.

Welcome to Memphis

“HELP ME AND LET ME HELP YOU” – BOA ME NA ME MMOA WO

In addition to a deep love for their city, the National Family Engagement Fellowship Team from Memphis boasts deep roots in their community. They envision a day when every school in Tennessee is a Family-Centered School and to get there, they’ve built an assessment tool called the Family-Centered Schools Framework, grounded in the voices of Memphis community families like their own.

The Team’s landscape assessment was the catalyst they needed to create the Framework. “We went where there was a natural gathering or convening of folks…and we always led with the fact that we respect the capital of everyone,” explains Dr. Bobby White, Founder and CEO of Frayser Community Schools, a charter network in Memphis. “And respecting their capital means we don’t do this to them, we do it with them.” When the Team analyzed their landscape assessment data, they asked themselves: How do we truly put parents at the center?

Grounded in Black epistemology that celebrates the Swahili notions of community, the Family-Centered Schools Framework will be part of school leaders’ continuous cycle of learning, and will help each school determine what they need to ensure equitable family engagement. “One year it might be open and welcoming spaces; another year it might be that we want voices heard,” says Natalie McKinney, Executive Director of Whole Child Strategies. “We need to ensure that whatever we’re doing is driven by the family.”

In Their Own Words

“I thought the fellowship was fascinating because I believe that family engagement is the piece of the work that people don’t pay enough attention to that could be the game changer for sustained academic growth throughout the country.”

Dr. Bobby White,
Founder & CEO, Frayser Community Schools

Memphis Strategic Plan

Focus Area + Outcomes

  • Schools have a definition of high-quality family engagement that is aligned with the Family-Centered Schools standards of the assessment
  • Institutionalize Family-Centered Schools designation
  • School improvements and innovations are driven by diverse family voices, especially those who have been historically silenced
  • The Family-Centered Schools Assessment is shown to support increased family engagement in schools
  • Educators value families and work consistently with them to build and sustain trusting relationships
  • Restorative practices in the school support complex connections between positive mindsets, educator actions, and family/student outcomes
  • School uses data to drive toward greater equity in their family engagement practice
  • Families report having trusting relationships with their child’s teacher(s)
  • Educators consistently communicate academic and nonacademic information and progress to families
  • Families feel that they are equal partners in regular, two-way communication with their child’s school
  • Educators have reduced implicit bias toward families and see students and families as assets
  • Families feel valued, welcomed, and not judged by the school
  • Families believe that partnering with the school and teachers will make a difference in their student’s success
  • Families have the information they need to support their child to set goals, monitor progress, and support learning

Download the Strategic Plan

Memphis’ vision is that students are successful because trust is restored through open communication, welcoming and compassionate spaces, support for families, building real relationships, and honoring family voices in Family Centered Schools (FCS) across Tennessee.

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Fellowship Participants

Meet the Memphis Team

Shelby County Schools

Manager, Office of Family and Community Engagement

Antonio Harvey has had the opportunity to serve as a professional educator for over two decades.  He has been a participant of the New Leaders program where he received extensive training in leadership and teacher development.  Currently, he is the manager for the Department of Family and Community Engagement for Shelby County Schools.

He is a proud product of the City of Memphis and the local school system.  He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Memphis and obtained his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Tennessee State University. Recently, he obtained his Educational Specialist Degree at Walden University.

Antonio is truly an advocate for the children of Memphis.  He is passionate about providing opportunities for children that will change their life trajectory. He believes that this can be done through equity and by crafting experiences in children’s lives that create positive outcomes.

Frayser Community Schools

Founder & CEO

Bobby grew up in the Memphis town of Frayser and graduated from Frayser High school. He later attended Shelby State Community College and received both an Associate’s Degree of Arts and Science in General Education before enrolling in LeMoyne-Owen College.

Bobby pursued a government position with corporate America before returning to Memphis as the Assistant Director for the TN Charter School Resource Center. Bobby began his tenure with Memphis City Schools in 2000, serving as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal for twelve years.

He has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Freed Hardeman University and will graduate this May with an EdD in Educational leadership with an urban focus from the University of Memphis. Most notably, Bobby is the founder and CEO of Frayser Community Schools – a Charter Management Organization and turnaround charter operator in the state.

Connect with Dr. White via LinkedIn.

University of Memphis

Morrie and Lillian Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education

Beverly is the Holder of the Morrie and Lillian Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education at the University of Memphis. During her professional career in education, she worked in Ohio as a high school teacher and served as a state department of education supervisor. As a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she co-led an innovative program to prepare teacher leaders for urban schools. Since arriving in Memphis 11 years ago, she has designed a Graduate Certificate in Urban Education, created the Center for Urban Interdisciplinary Research and Engagement, and coordinated the Johnson Scholars Program that develops exceptional urban educators.

As a classroom teacher, she conducted relationship-building home visits for her students, which informed her teaching and built partnerships with families to benefit academic achievement. As a professor, her research focuses on equity in education, urban education, and teacher education. These commitments illustrate both the practical and scholarly ways that she enacts her commitment to effective educator-led family engagement practices and designs, particularly with social justice perspectives.

Cathedral of Faith

Co-Pastor & Family Preservation Coordinator

Mrs. Connie Booker serves as Co-Pastor of Cathedral of Faith Community Church , under the leadership of her husband of 31 years, Rev. C. L. Booker, Sr. She is the mother of two children, Calvin Jr., and Connika and proud Nana of three cherished grandsons. A native of Memphis, TN. and a strong believer in it takes the village, she is a graduate of Northside High School and continued her post high-school studies at Rice College in Memphis.

Connie is a strong advocate for children and families in Memphis. She has a deeply sincere and nurturing manner toward the dispossessed and underrepresented. Mrs. Booker maintains a food pantry and clothing closet and has helped numerous people obtain food, clothing, housing and other tangible goods that promote their dignity and well-being. She has mentored the young person or older adult to promote educational success as well as how to dress for that success. This endearing woman has been an efficient and effective counselor to many. She is a role model.

Whole Child Strategies, Inc.

Executive Director

Natalie is the executive director of Whole Child Strategies, Inc. She previously served as the Director of Policy for both Shelby County Schools and legacy Memphis City Schools, which included policy development and legislative planning. As part of the largest school district merger in the history of public education in America, Natalie led the effort to revise and develop a school district policy manual to accommodate the resulting amalgamation of rural, suburban, and urban schools.

Prior to arriving in Memphis, Natalie founded and served as the inaugural director of the Juvenile Law Clinic at North Carolina Central University School of Law, providing a holistic approach to representing youth accused of delinquent behavior and expelled from school.

Ms. McKinney holds a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, a Master of Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Spelman College.

Connect with Natalie via LinkedIn.

Klondike Smokey City Community Development Corp

Executive Director

Quincey, mother of five, has participated in community related activities most of her life. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Klondike Smokey City Community Development Corporation (KSCCDC). In this role, she advocates for parents and families while fulfilling the mission of the KSCCDC: to improve the economic health of the North Memphis communities through community, workforce, and family development initiatives. Through these efforts, Morris seeks to revitalize the spirit of the community by encouraging economic growth and improving the general quality of life for neighborhood families.

Connect with Quincey via LinkedIn.

Memphis Flamboyan Team

Project Manager

Rychetta Watkins completed her undergraduate degree at Washington University and her PhD in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 2012, Rychetta has consulted with non-profits organizations in the arts and education providing project management and program development capacity for greater impact. Prior to that, Dr. Watkins was an Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell and Rhodes Colleges. Her research on contemporary African American and Asian American literature and civil rights movements of the 1960’s fuels her belief in educational and arts access as social justice issues. The relationship between political identity and cultural expression is the subject of her 2012 book, Black Power, Yellow Power and the Making of Revolutionary Identity, and her 2016 play, Iola’s Southern Fields, which depicts Ida B. Wells’ early years in the Mid-South and the roots of her activism in Memphis.

Rychetta has served in various leadership capacities within local non-profits, including Interim Senior Manager for Neighborhood Strategies for Whole Child Strategies, Inc., AmeriCorps Programs Coordinator for the City of Memphis, Program Manager for Common Ground, and Development Manager for Stand for Children Tennessee. Rychetta focuses her civic engagement through local organizations, such as Hattiloo Theatre and The Shelby County (TN) Chapter of The Links, Inc.

Connect with Rychetta via LinkedIn.

Shelby County Schools

Board Member

Stephanie, a North Memphis native, attended Millington Central High, and studied psychology at the University of Memphis. Stephanie’s career in advocacy began as a parent volunteer. Because of her passion and willingness to help, Stephanie was elected to serve on the Shelby County Head-start Policy Council, where she later became Vice Chair.

As a board member and parent of three school-aged children, Stephanie understands the challenges parents and children face as it relates to the constant changes in education. Stephanie’s role in many community groups, including the Frayser Neighborhood Council has helped to improve many residents’ quality of life. As Vice President of the group, she’s petitioned Memphis City Council to rebuild communities to align with former President Barack Obama’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

Connect with Stephanie via LinkedIn.

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National Family Engagement Fellowship

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