A New Sheriff in Town!


A few weeks ago, I appealed to the powers that be in charge of electing the next leader of the Achievement School District to have a few things in mind during the process of their selection. I’ve heard of “ask and it shall be given”- and most times those things I desire manifest. Never thought it would be applicable in this case!

As I read Chalkbeat’s announcement of ASD’s new leader yesterday, it was like a ray of sunshine on a rainy gloomy day, a streak of hope breaking through the clouds.  For the first time in a few years, I had an immense amount of hope in the future of ASD.

The Achievement School District announced Dr. Sharon Griffin, a Memphis native, as their next leader. With the official titles of Assistant Commissioner of School Turnaround and Chief of the Achievement School District, she will bring her vast experience in turn-around work to the district at its most pivotal point in its history. She was not among the finalists announced previously, which hints at a level of humility and regained purpose from the ASD that is necessary to really turn things around.

Dr. Griffin’s accomplishments and accolades can be easily gleaned with a quick Google search. Her track record of success is just that – a record of success. She is exactly what the most underserved students of Tennessee need in this moment – a champion who has been fighting for children for over 25 years.

In my previous blog, the rally cry rested on wondering, “Where do we go from here?” With so many students still “failing,” the lack of consistency left me with questions that were mainly answered with this announcement. Dr. Griffin’s prior accomplishments with Shelby County and the I-Zone schools is proof positive that she is not only poised for this next endeavor, but purposed for it.

Good job, ASD! Looking forward to good things to come…


Marlena Little

Educator, visionary and leader.

Marlena Little grew up in the inner-city of Chicago in one of the worst neighborhoods of the city. Yet the contrast of her home and school life provided evidence to the statement, “it’s not where you’ve been but where you are going”. Having attended one of the best elementary and high-schools in the country, she was determined to live beyond the poverty and violence of her neighborhood, knowing education was the escape.

Marlena Little, a Memphian by choice, relocated to Memphis to fight for educational equity. As a teacher, it was important for Marlena’s students to see her as an example of that escape. As an administrator, Marlena challenged teachers and staff to illuminate education as the way out, yet as a visionary, Marlena has created paths of escape.

As Founder of Life Prep Academy Schools, Marlena Little has seamlessly merged her childhood with the standard of excellence imbedded in her educational experiences to provide students, regardless of any “label”, the limitless opportunities a high-quality education affords.  Her philosophical beliefs about education are the guiding principles of Life Prep.

In addition to her many roles, Marlena Little is also a mother and forever learner.  She is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership and has the pleasure of raising a nine-year-old daughter.