The Gestalt mission is to leverage community assets to empower citizens who will be college-ready, career-ready, and community-ready. We will achieve this mission by providing students with an exceptional educational program defined by rigorous curriculum standards, high expectations for academic achievement, integrated technology, and community service.
With schools failing, families filing for bankruptcy and foreclosure, and businesses leaving a struggling community in Memphis, Tennessee, Yetta Lewis and Derwin Sisnett saw a need for education and community development. They worked to develop a community-based school that would address both. In 2008, Power Center Academy opened its doors to 125 sixth-grade students in Hickory Hill. Power Center Academy and the neighborhood began to see early successes through increased achievement scores and the elimination of community blight. In 2011, Yetta and Derwin founded Gestalt Community Schools, a charter management organization, to scale the work begun in 2008.
Today and Tomorrow
Gestalt Community Schools is a system of K-12 college-preparatory charter schools in targeted Memphis, Tennessee communities. Gestalt schools provide strong academic outcomes for their scholars through initiatives that include meaningful community involvement. Gestalt catalyzes community leadership to help revitalize the neighborhood as it operates its schools in that community. Instead of debating whether education impacts the community or vice versa, Gestalt believes the most effective method to support student achievement is an integration of education and community, a true gestalt: a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The vision is building better communities through education. To this end, Gestalt targets low-income communities that have failing schools, then catalyzes grassroots leadership to revitalize the neighborhood, educates the youth through high-performing schools, and partners with providers to tackle out-of-school challenges that hinder students from succeeding.
- Achievement: We strive for excellence in the classroom and in the community.
- Community: We believe collaboration is key to personal growth and neighborhood revitalization.
- Humility: We know the work we do is bigger than us. We are accountable to our scholars, our peers, and the neighborhoods we serve.
- Innovation: We strive to evolve faster than the world around us. We can be our best only if we are willing to re-evaluate and refine what we do.
- Zeal: We believe the core of our drive to succeed is derived from our compassion for the communities we serve.
Gestalt Community Schools operates six schools in the Memphis community and serves more than 2,200 scholars in grades K-12. More information is available on our school pages.