Supporters of a future high school in Midtown Memphis are among 50 finalists for one of at least five $10 million prizes from a national contest, down from an initial field of 700, the group announced Thursday morning.
The XQ Super School Challenge, backed by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, will select teams that have best reimagined how high schools can prepare students for college, workplace and life. Winning teams will be notified Aug. 4.
The Memphis applicant team envisions the 500-student Crosstown High as a diverse public college prep school that can help Shelby County Schools regain middle-class students who have left the district for private schools, as well as attract students from nearby neighborhoods. Project-based and personalized learning approaches are among components outlined in the application.
Big questions still loom for the new high school, however, such as wether it would be a contract or charter school, and what demographic of students it will serve. (Read a Chalkbeat analysis that breaks down these big questions).
Crosstown High is slated to open in the fall of 2017 in Crosstown Concourse, a former Sears warehouse building undergoing a massive renovation, with tenants from mostly educational, healthcare and retail sectors.
“There are many great schools in Memphis, but the vision of the XQ team was to bring a unique learning environment to the city; as of today, we are one huge step closer to making that vision a reality,” said Justin Jamerson, member of the Crosstown High board of directors and participant in the Memphis XQ Super Schools Challenge. “The school is being designed as nothing less than a model for the future of education, so our investment will pay dividends, not only for Crosstown Concourse, but the entire Memphis region.”
The application group in Memphis is comprised of volunteers including parents, educators, students and community stakeholders. The group planned to post detailed excerpts from its XQ Super Schools Challenge application on its website beginning Thursday, adding information every day through the end of July, Jamerson said.
Disclosure: Chalkbeat receives support from the Emerson Collective, which launched XQ.
Correction: July 21, 2016: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed Justin Jamerson’s quotes to another source. This version includes the correct attribution.