It may be an acquired taste, but most Memphians who care about hip hop have gotten used to the scary-sounding production, hardcore lyrics, and weird bass hooks that typify the music of Three 6 Mafia. The group's latent misogyny, however, is another matter. Luckily, Gangsta Boo, for years the group's only prominent female member, is around to set things straight. For this, Gangsta Boo doesn't get enough credit. Her lyrics and style are powerful and affirm femininity and sexuality. And because her songs and verses can stand alone, Boo's managed to escape the prevalent "token diva" ghettoization that has weighed down so many female members of male-dominated rap cliques.
The best song on Gangsta Boo's new album, Both Worlds, *69, is "Can I Get Paid (Get Your Broke Ass Out) -- Da Strippers' Anthem." The production is very Three 6 Mafia -- horror-movie Casio background and that tinny tap-tap-tap Memphis-style drum machine -- but the lyrics are affirming, revolutionary, and, dare I say, feminist.
There may not be any other song in mainstream music that is so empowering and supportive of sex workers. And before you bring up "What Would You Do," that ubiquitous current single by City High that hinges on a dialogue between a female stripper and a disapproving male friend, let me say this: "What Would You Do" is a nice start but the essential message of the song is that, due to family finances, some women have no choice but to become strippers and prostitute. This hardship sets them apart from (and above) other sex workers.
The theme of "Can I Get Paid" is much more straightforward: "Get yo broke ass out the club if you ain't gonna tip." Boo speaks in the voice of a stripper and her narrative doesn't come off as condescending, self-pitying, annoyingly contemplative and poetic, or, worst of all, pathetic. This woman is in control; this woman has demands. She doesn't waste time questioning the morality of her profession or the assumed hypocrisy of her career choice. Instead, she straight up tells her male patrons who don't tip to quit wasting her time, with lyrics that are 100 percent confrontational. The most blatant example: "We don't like them boys who be all up in our face/We don't like them boys who ain't spendin' no money/We ain't got no time for y'all muthafuckin' broke-ass n****s in the club/If ya ain't tippin' get the fuck out, bitch."
With the perpetual influx of rap and rock songs about stripping from a male and non-sex-worker point of view, "Can I Get Paid" is long overdue. Every other mainstream song about sex work ranges from being merely flaky to being outright detrimental. Example one, the best of the worst, is the aforementioned City High song. Example two is "Lady Marmalade," particularly the new version by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, and Pink. The song glamorizes the life of a sex worker without exploring aspects of the trade. In the video, the pop princesses prance around in corsets and high heels on a burlesque stage while servants help Miss Christina put on her I-fell-face-first-into-a-red-paint-can makeup. This is dangerous and may remind some of the movie Pretty Woman 10 years ago -- a Cinderella story that served as an enticement for lonely young girls to move to L.A. and become hookers. Example three is Tina Turner's "Private Dancer," in which the obviously hardened stripper longs for a life outside of her meaningless existence. Example four, the worst of all, is the typical narrative from a third-person (and usually male) perspective which either wrongfully describes sex work as nothing but dangerous and exploitative, pleads for women to leave the industry for Prince Charmings who promise a new life, or both. "Roxanne" by the Police and the new Wyclef Jean song, "Perfect Gentleman," are good examples.
Gangsta Boo's song is different. She knows why she strips; she knows the ins
and outs of her job; she knows the pros and cons; she knows how to make the money that's there. She doesn't fall in love with her customers ("Stick the money in my lacestrap if you want a show/I'm a private dancer/Be your love slave for awhile"); she maintains complete control of her performances ("If them beggin' bustas is perverted/Keep they mouth away"); and she doesn't wax poetic about escaping the business ("I got bills to pay, but a sister's gonna suck it up"). Her job is just that, a job -- and she makes it clear that strippers can be smart businesswomen in control of their bodies and lives.
Gangsta Boo definitely knows what she's talking about -- surprisingly so for a woman who admits that she's creating a character and not speaking from her own experience. Of all forms of mainstream music today, rap and R&B seem to be the only two genres where women are crossing boundaries and making major progress. Gangsta Boo is absolutely at the forefront of that. Getting paid is essential, but can the lady get some respect too?
At the end of the school year students rally to the cry: "No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks."
Then, sooner than they can believe, it's the beginning of the school year. There are no more rallying cries, only gleaming white tennis shoes squeaking on freshly waxed floors, new pencil cases full of sharpened number 2s, and backpacks filled with newly issued textbooks.
College students move into their dorm rooms or apartments, trying to make sure they've got just the schedule they want, the one that lets them have Fridays off or no classes in the morning.
But this year will be a little different. Memphis City Schools just completed the largest school construction project in the city's history and will open nine new schools on August 20th. Tuition for undergrads at the University of Memphis went up 15 percent from last year; 20 percent for grad students. And the Gateway test and the new version of the GED will make getting a high school diploma, or the high school equivalency, a little more difficult.
Staffers Mary Cashiola, Chris Przybyszewski, and Hannah Walton contributed stories on these topics, as well as one on a subject the entire country is talking about because of the First Daughters: underage drinking.
Read on. You might learn something.
When the 2000-2001 Memphis City Schools district report card was released by the state last November, it was littered with Ds and Fs, the occasional B, a rare A. But one section was blank, almost ominously so. The Gateway exams: Algebra I, English II, and Biology I. Instead of a grade, the report card simply read, "To be administered beginning 2001-02."
But it wasn't just Memphis' report card. Every school system in the state faces the same challenge this year. For some systems, however, that blank is scarier than for others.
This year's incoming high school freshmen will be the first class required to pass the Gateway exam in order to graduate. The Gateway is composed of three exit exams: Algebra I, English II, and Biology I. In comparison, the TCAP, required for graduation before 2001, tested eighth-grade-level language and mathematics skills. Last year, there were Memphis area students who didn't pass the TCAP after multiple tries, and the Gateway promises to be even more challenging.
Those students who have dropped out of school and are looking toward their GED will also have a tougher time of it. In January, the new version of the GED, or General Education Development test, will be introduced. Lee McGarity, with Memphis City Schools' Office of Research and Evaluation, says she doesn't know much about the new GED test yet, only that it will be more difficult.
When proctors begin administering the new test, anyone who hasn't passed all of the five subsections -- Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Language Arts Writing, and Language Arts Reading -- will have to start completely over. This means that people who have passed Social Studies but have yet to beat the Math section are lining up in droves to take the old GED before it's too late.
"[The GED testing office] is totally booked for the year," says McGarity. The staff administers the test to 25 people a day, Monday through Thursday.
The GED was created so WWII veterans could get their high school equivalency and go on to college. These days, 800,000 adults take the test each year. That doesn't mean 800,000 get their high school equivalency each year, though.
"There's a misconception with the GED that it's easy, that it's not challenging, that anyone can walk in and pass it. That's not true," says Matthew Sharp, a staff member in charge of GED classes at Memphis City Schools' Messick Adult Center.
During the 2000 calendar year, the MCS GED testing office administered the test to 2,091 people. Only 1,013, or roughly less than half, passed. In fact, the test is designed so that not all high school seniors would be able to take it and pass.
"If you came to my office," says McGarity, "and you didn't have your high school diploma, but you had your GED, I would hire you. It's that rigorous."
But some have argued that the test doesn't really do much for the people who pass it. Statistics show they don't earn that much more money in their lifetime with their GED than they do without it. But McGarity says the equivalency diploma is meant to be a bridge, bringing someone who for whatever reason left school back to their education.
The work they have to put into getting their GED gives them the study habits to go on to the next level of education. It's recommended that each GED candidate take a class or barring that, study two hours five days a week.
Messick offers year-round preparatory classes for the GED, teaching to those adults between a ninth- and 12th-grade skill level on the test subjects.
"We have to develop the skills of individuals to enable them to pass," says Sharp.
But Messick isn't the only school concerned with developing skills. Both Memphis and Shelby County high schools have been busy readying their students -- and preparing various remedial programs -- for the Gateway.
The state department of education released sample tests of both the Algebra I and the Biology I Gateway tests last week. As of this writing, school officials don't know when they will receive their first set of test scores or when ninth-graders this year will take the Gateway tests.
They do know the tests will be given at or near the end of the particular course. Students who do not pass will have multiple opportunities to retake the tests.
McGarity, who oversees both the GED testing office and Gateway testing for the Memphis City Schools, says she doesn't know why the tests are becoming more difficult this year.
Perhaps the tests are a product of a changing skill set for the modern workforce. The Gateway focuses more on students' foundational thinking and problem-solving skills, while the updated GED is geared toward business-related problems. Either way, the hoped-for result is that the new diploma holders will be ready for the world after high school.
It's just a game. Football. Two teams take a ball and move it 100 yards. Simple, right? Sure, if it were a game of checkers. But it's not. It's a contact sport with bodies crashing together in a great train wreck on every play. It's also one heck of a way to meet others from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Meet them, beat on them, respect them, and earn their respect.
Maybe it's just a guy thing, but there's a certain amount of wisdom that can be gained by butting helmets. Nothing instills brotherhood like a banged-up body.
This is the point of the Bridges Kick-off Classic on Saturday, August 18th, at the Liberty Bowl. It's a double-header pitting private schools Christian Brothers High School (CBHS) and Memphis University School (MUS) against public high schools Melrose and Whitehaven, respectively. Bridges, a nonprofit organization geared toward crossing societal boundaries, sponsors the event along with Cricket Communications.
The match-up is obvious: private versus public on the field. There's also a breakfast that morning where players, coaches, and fans from all four schools will meet and eat. Seating is arranged so that the opponents' supporters will sit together at the event. The social meshing of players and fans is a tactic to get people to look at each other as human beings rather than as rich or poor, black or white.
The games are the first on all four teams' schedules, and they count. The winners start the season 1-0 against a perennial powerhouse. The losers, 0-1.
"It's just another game. You take them all in stride," says Maurice Harris, head coach of Whitehaven. That's easy for him to say. His team finished 10-2 in 2000, losing in the 2nd round of the TSSAA 5A state championship tournament. His squad returns all its skill players, and though his offensive line is young, it should be ready for MUS, which is coming off a relatively dismal (especially by MUS standards) 5-6 record, bowing out of the first round of last year's TSSAA Division 2 tourney.
That's probably why MUS coach Bobby Alston is more philosophical about the game. "This is what high school athletics are supposed to be about," he says. "We tend to lose sight of that a lot of times. Bottom line, the only reason for schools to be involved in sports is for educational reasons. Otherwise, we should all be playing club sports. If we get out there and compete and get along, then 15 or 20 years from now when we're trying to solve a common problem, it should carry over."
Harris agrees. He knows there's going to be a dynamic between teams that's not related to the score. "The public versus private, that's not a big concern of ours," he says. "But the black versus the white thing, that's a big concern. Because when [the players] get together and start talking with one another, they'll find there aren't that many differences between each other. That's the most important thing to me. If you haven't been exposed to something, you're afraid of it."
MUS is one of the region's most prestigious and expensive private schools. It's also predominantly white. Whitehaven High is -- in a twist of nominal irony -- the opposite. Say what you will about the order of things, there is very little chance that these students would meet each other outside sports.
"In the locker rooms, for the most part, sports do a better job on race relations than anywhere else," Alston says. "Now, sometimes when it gets outside the locker room, it's not as good. But inside the locker room people say things to one another and no one gets their feelings hurt. They make fun of each other; everyone can laugh at themselves.
"If we're not playing each other, it's sort of out of sight, out of mind. When you compete against each other, you form relationships and even if it's in competition, those relationships can start some types of communication and involvement."
Recent history to the contrary, MUS and Whitehaven have met many times in the past. "I think there is a long-standing rivalry between MUS and Whitehaven that goes back to the Sixties, when both teams were in the county league," Alston says. "Whitehaven was the county league power and every once in a while MUS would sneak up on them a little bit. Over the years, the TSSAA's posture with private schools has affected their relationship somewhat."
That posture separated league play between private and public schools, theoretically eliminating any potential advantages private schools might have in doling out scholarship money for athletes. The private schools contend that the money is financial aid based on need rather than ability. It doesn't matter who is right. The point is that the TSSAA took away one link between public and private schools -- the ability to meet on a field and butt heads. To maybe learn a thing or two from a game. The Bridges Classic brings that back, if only for a day.
For some the life of a college student comes easily. They live with their parents or near their hometowns, going back every so often to see the fam, eat something other than cafeteria food, and do their laundry. The transition comes smoothly.
Others leave their families hundreds of miles away, step into their standard-issue dorm rooms, and realize they know ... nothing. Not how often their car needs an oil change, not how to study with the constant distraction of energetic co-eds running around. They can't cook and they have to beg their roommate to teach them how to do laundry.
So to save them from those embarrassments, the Flyer offers this College How-To Guide.
How To Do Laundry
Yeah, you'll probably go to class in pajama pants more often than not. That or shorts and a T-shirt. However, these items still need to be washed from time to time, as do your unmentionables.
So follow these instructions from the back of a brand-name detergent: 1) sort laundry and select water temperature; 2) measure detergent; 3) add laundry to washer.
But it can be a bit more complicated than that. First thing, stock up on quarters. Keep them in a jar, a pouch, a sock, anything, but keep them. And don't use them for late-night snack runs. Most machines will only take quarters and depending on where you're doing your laundry, the wash alone can cost from 75 cents to $1.50. And then there's another 50 cents to a dollar for the drying, although sometimes two washer loads can fit in one dryer. (It's not recommended, but who are we to stop you if there's still space?)
It's also a good idea, if your laundry room is in your dorm, to not anger anyone else using the machines at the same time as you. This means: Don't leave your clothes in the washer overnight; make sure to clean out the lint traps; and just to be safe, try not to take anyone else's clothes out of the dryer (to some people, this is an unforgivable offense). And don't forget the fabric softener.
Now your pajamas will be fresh and clean and ready for your next two weeks of classes.
How To Avoid the "Freshman 15"
Stay away from the cafeteria's peanut butter cookies. Stay away from fast-food hamburgers, pizza, and milk shakes. And certainly don't eat them all at one sitting.
"Avoiding fast food is one of the main things," says Susan Hulett, a registered dietitian who has a practice in Germantown.
"At home, students would probably be getting a healthier diet," says Hulett, "but then freedom comes and they eat pizza at all hours of the night. They're staying up late, studying and eating."
Hulett, herself the mother of two college-age sons, says to be selective about your meals, choosing fruits and vegetables. But if you can't stay away from more fattening foods altogether, try to balance your diet.
"If you have a hamburger, have a salad with it versus having fries, and instead of having a milk shake, have a Diet Coke," says Hulett. Incoming students should also keep up their current exercise regimen.
But if you do all this to no avail, look to your nightlife. Partying might take a larger toll than you think.
Says Hulett: "Beer might be the biggest part of [the freshman 15]."
How To Detect Alcohol Poisoning
While we're on the subject of beer, this is a piece of knowledge you should have. College students die every year in alcohol-related incidents, from alcohol poisoning to accidents under the influence. So just tuck this away until you need it; and if you don't, all the better.
If, after a night (or day) of partying, your friend falls asleep and you can't wake them up, they have alcohol poisoning. If their breathing has slowed to about eight to 12 breaths per minute or if they stop breathing for 10 seconds or more, they have alcohol poisoning. If their skin is cold and clammy and pale or bluish, they have alcohol poisoning. Call 911. Even if they're under 21. Call 911.
Oh, and if someone's vomiting, don't leave them alone. Stay with them and keep them sitting or standing up; that way they won't choke on their own vomit.
How To Get Into "History of the Beatles" Rather Than "Ancient Myth In the Original Sanskrit"
Be prepared. Be early. And, by all means, read the directions on how to register in your freshman information packets.
Succeeding in the registration process is all about knowing what's going on. These days most university and college students get to register via telephone or the Internet. Students plug in their identification numbers and then follow the prompts.
"Before, when students registered in person, it was a madhouse the days before school started," says Danny Molling, assistant registrar at the University of Memphis. "It's made it much easier, being able to register by phone."
When you go to register, you'll want to have the call numbers for the courses ready, says Molling, and students should also have an alternate schedule, just in case one or more of the classes they want is already full.
Many universities, like the U of M, keep updated class lists on the Web so students who haven't registered yet can see which classes are full and plan their schedules accordingly. But if that special class closes up and you still want in, you'll want to call the registrar and see what they recommend.
At the U of M, Molling sends students directly to the academic departments to see if they can get in. From there, the department might make a decision, have the students sign a waiting list, or tell them to talk directly to the professor. And it's just a matter of you knowing which is the right way to go about getting signed up.
But a word to the wise: A polite e-mail to the professor can never hurt.
How To Balance Your Checkbook
"It's really simple," says Linda Conley, the branch manager of the Bank of America in Peabody Place.
The most important thing is to write everything down: each check you deposit or write, and especially every withdrawal from the ATM. Then add or subtract that amount from your beginning balance.
"A lot of customers use their debit card and forget to write it down," says Conley. People also forget to enter ATM charges and their bank account's monthly service fees.
When you get your monthly statement, check to see if the balance the bank shows matches what you have in your checkbook. Then go back and check all the debits and credits on your bank statement and in your checkbook.
If there's still a discrepancy, it's time to head to your bank with all your records. So keep them.
"We'll look at our statements against your records," says Conley. "When you come in, we have to see your records.
"Most customers call in our automated system and use that balance. They should never do that," says Conley. Because of the turnaround time, if you've made a withdrawal or a deposit within the 24 hours prior, the balance will not be accurate.
Just remember to keep a pen or a pencil handy.
How To Not Bankrupt Yourself
Now you've got your checkbook balanced, you should know one thing: College is expensive. And if you don't want to be a pauper at the end of the year, listen up.
You probably shouldn't sign up for every pre-approved credit card that's having a promotion on campus. And you probably shouldn't use your student loan money on a trip to Cancun.
But probably the most expensive part of college -- other than tuition itself -- is books. Depending on how many literature and history classes you're taking, each semester's books will probably cost you around $300. But here's a tip: You probably will never read those books, not in their entirety, anyway.
To avoid paying for those books -- you'll only get a pittance when you sell them back -- try your school's library. They should have a copy of the text; if you can't check it out, you can always photocopy the pages you need (one copy for educational purposes only). But if you'd rather have something you can write notes in, another scheme is to share the book with a friend who is taking the same class. It's better if it's someone who lives in your dorm, but as long as you know the book's co-owner's address and phone number, don't sweat it.
Then there's always the daring plan of not buying the books at all and just basing your exam answers on what the professor says. It's not a bad system if you can take really good notes. Or your grades aren't really that important to you.
And if things get really desperate, don't forget you can always sell your blood.
In 1999, Dr. Joyce Jensen reluctantly walked away from a garden she lovingly tended for 14 years. Little did she know then that one of the last seeds she planted would blossom so well after she moved away.
Jensen's garden is Richland Elementary School, an award-winning public school tucked away in East Memphis on Rich Road just east of White Station, where she served 29 years as principal. The seed she planted was the creation of the Richland Elementary Educational Fund (REEF), a volunteer parent organization wholly separate from the school's more traditional Parent Teacher Association. REEF's mission is to raise private funds earmarked to underwrite teacher development and curriculum-enrichment grants.
The idea was patterned after a successful fund-raising effort by parents at neighboring White Station High School.
Jensen, a grandmother with six grandchildren, pioneered the concept of placing a stamp on the back of student report cards, asking parents every six weeks to sign off on the number of volunteer hours they were willing to commit to at school or in their home. The procedure is still used at Richland today.
Her successor as principal, Kevin McCarthy, was also a believer in the REEF concept, even before the nonprofit group found its focus. He recognized the potential of having a pool of parents driven to foster the tradition of educational excellence at the school, especially in light of looming governmental funding constraints.
He nurtured the group through a period of uneven leadership, as the volunteers learned the fund-raising ropes on increasingly successful annual events such as spaghetti dinners and student talent shows. Eventually, the mix of motivated parents and teachers gelled into a cohesive force.
At the end of the last school year, McCarthy asked the group's leadership for something above and beyond their community-building events. He challenged the group to raise the serious money ($10,000 to $20,000 annually) needed for curriculum enrichment. Specifically he wanted the funds necessary to hire extra reading assistants for the lower grades.
The diverse student population at Richland creates special challenges for teachers and administrators. Some children are ready to read when they start kindergarten; others, unfortunately, are not. The disparity creates a need to spend extra time with these students.
"The emphasis at the federal, state, and local level is to make sure all children are reading at grade level or above when they exit third grade," McCarthy says.
And that's where this story comes full circle. In a brainstorming session, the board members of REEF came up with the idea of honoring former principal Jensen by naming the "curriculum enrichment" fund-raising drive in her honor.
The project has rapidly taken on a life of its own. There is now talk of planning a Richland Elementary community reunion for former students, teachers, and their families.
Through all the mid-summer planning commotion, Jensen remains modest and self-deprecating about her renewed status as a dusted-off "community institution."
"That's what happens when you've been around a long time," she laughs.
But the comment also strikes a more serious chord.
"I never got tired of the routine. It was hard to leave," she says. "The first day of school always brings a feeling of sadness over me now."
But Jensen remains a genuine fan of the school's achievements during the first three years of Principal McCarthy's administration.
"Kevin [McCarthy] understands that if you empower everyone, and they feel that it's their school, good things start to happen."
And so the garden grows.
The Back to School sale is in full swing. Clusters of teenage girls glob around racks of the latest fashions, swaying to the beat of a music video playing overhead. Serving up a buffet of up-to-the-minute trends, the sales offer sleeveless mock turtlenecks, halters, tank tops, hipster jeans, rocker tees. Bedazzled is still in, as is camouflage. Baby polo shirts are back, as are plaid skirts and pants, '80s-influenced belts, and the usual jeans and cotton tees.
The girls are wearing jean shorts and tube tops, one-shoulder tops, and tiny tees that read "Not if you were the last guy on the planet" or "Angel," in glitter.
And with places like Old Navy advertising their miniskirts "the shorter the better," how does teen fashion compare with school dress codes?
The general code for area high schools, both public and private, centers on creating a safe and distraction-free environment. No short shorts, nothing that pictures or advertises an illegal substance, no gang colors.
At some private and public schools the issue is moot. Students wear a school uniform. At other schools students in inappropriate dress will be asked to change. And most of those teenage girls at the mall won't be able to wear the fashions to school that they see in Seventeen, YM, and Teen People.
The bottom line is this -- it's all about the students learning more. And when [teacher/student] ratios are smaller, they learn more," says Commodore Primus. Primus is the principal for the new Robert R. Church Elementary School, one of nine new city schools being opened this fall.
The state of Tennessee's revised requirements for smaller class sizes gave Memphis City Schools few options other than building new schools. The subsequent simultaneous construction of nine schools during the past 14 months is considered the largest such construction project in Memphis history. The schools will help reduce overcrowding at a number of locations and offer 7,200 students modern facilities. Class-size ratio will be reduced to 20 students per teacher in kindergarten through third grade and 25 students per teacher in fourth through sixth grade.
The new schools, Robert R. Church Elementary, Holmes Road Elementary, Getwell Elementary, Craigmont Middle School, Germanshire Elementary, Hickory Ridge Elementary, Hickory Ridge Middle School, Ridgeway Middle School, and Winridge Elementary, will open for the first day of school on August 20th.
Primus says it's like getting in a brand-new car. The smell of fresh paint is ever-present. Office administrators are busy opening packages of pens, tape dispensers, staplers, and other new office supplies. The crystal-clear windows and spotless floors are a sure sign that students have yet to make their way through the doors. It is only a matter of time before classrooms are filled with busy students and artwork hangs in the hallways.
Memphis City Schools officials strive for equity throughout the city so that each student can receive equal instruction no matter which school he or she attends. But the new schools will be better able to incorporate planned future programs, including Early Childhood Learning for 3- and 4-year-olds and Special Education.
Early Childhood will teach preschool children to interact with others and will prepare them for the next level. The Special Education program will be geared toward students with disabilities, emphasizing one-on-one contact with teachers.
Other additions to the standard school structure will include science labs, computer labs, library research rooms, and special project centers. Other additions have been implemented to advance hands-on education.
Each school has been designed by different architects, giving them a unique look and feel. Getwell Elementary labels each hall with a different hue of the rainbow to help young students find their way around the school. Robert R. Church Elementary -- named after an early African-American millionaire -- has each wing named after a member of Church's family.
All of the new schools feature outdoor courtyards separate from the playground area. The courtyards will contain various learning tools, such as a large compass.
"We are not using the courtyard as a playground but as an outdoor learning center where students can perform science experiments and display different projects," Primus says. "The windows to the courtyard will give other students insight into what their peers are involved in. In other words, it will be the centerpiece of our school."
Although most decisions on the use of space were focused on children, teachers and parents will also receive some perks with the new schools. Near the guidance wing of the elementary schools, parents on the PTA board and other organized school committees will be able to meet in the "parents' room." Teachers in each grade are given planning rooms separate from teachers' lounges to allow for quiet and convenient planning periods.
Each classroom will contain five computers, an overhead projector, and a multimedia screen as additional in-class learning tools.
"It is vital now that students learn to use these tools in and out of the classroom," Getwell Elementary principal Terry Ross says. "We must start from the bottom and build a foundation for the children we educate."
In addition to the city schools, Shelby County's new Lakeland Elementary School will open its doors to 650 students this fall.
"We have no other choice than to build schools when we have significant enrollment increases and class reduction laws," Shelby County Schools spokesperson Mike Tebby says.
As the first day of school approaches, workers look for any last-minute touch-ups that will help opening day run as smoothly as possible. Ross says it's just a matter of getting the books on the shelves and the equipment in place.
The new buildings offer new hope -- but also new challenges.
"We are excited about the children coming to learn," Primus says. "We believe that new facilities heavily impact the children's learning. They seem to eliminate barriers. With a new building, we have no excuse."