Meet Kirby High School, a CHSS Demonstration School  

The Center for High School Success is proud to announce our 2023-24 Demonstration Schools. CHSS Demonstration Schools are chosen for their sustained improvement, consistently high 9th Grade On-Track Rates, and exemplary implementation of the CHSS Roadmap.  Additionally, Demonstration Schools receive the recommendation from a CHSS 9th Grade Success Coach.   

Demonstration Schools partner with CHSS to showcase the exemplary 9th Grade Success Work to support deep learning for the current national network of high schools and to recruit new schools and districts to engage in 9th Grade Success Work. 

Meet Kirby High School in Memphis, Tennessee  

Kirby High School has partnered with CHSS for four years, and, across the partnership, increased 9th Grade On-Track rates by 176%! 

CHSS Southeast/Midwest Regional Director, Lori Oduyoye, shared her experience working with Kirby High School saying, “In each year of our partnership, Kirby has implemented a transformative 9th Grade Success best practice, including moving the 9th grade students and team into a separate part of the building to create a true school within a school structure in order to meet the developmental needs of 9th graders. I’m excited for others to learn about the various structures, practices, and systems that have been put into place to create a place 9th graders thrive.” 

Freshman Academy Principal, Ryan Damek, shared more about Kirby High School.  

Tell us a little about your school community. 

Kirby is part of the Hickory Hill community in Memphis. Currently, Kirby serves around 800 students grades 9-12. 

Tell us a little about your school’s history with 9th Grade Success Work?   

Kirby is entering its 5th year as being part of the CHSS work. Kirby has consistently maintained majority of its freshmen staff over the last several years. However, for the 2023-24 school year, Kirby has added new staff members to its freshman team. 

What are you most proud of? 

I am most proud of the commitment that our 9th grade team has to the students at Kirby. Because of this, it builds a strong working culture in the academy. 

What has been an obstacle you’ve been able to overcome? 

For the longest time, Kirby’s 9th grade academy had the same teachers year after year. This past year, one of our key teachers got a district promotion and a couple other teaching spots opened. Due to the set culture within the academy, the new teachers were able to hit the ground running like they have been in the academy for years. 

Finish this sentence. “9th Grade On-Track Work/9th Grade Success Work has been transformational at our school…” 

9th Grade On-Track Work/9th Grade Success Work has been transformational at our school because of the accountability held by the CHSS coaches along with the faculty and staff that are on the team. 

How has partnering with CHSS been transformative? 

CHSS coaches help to problem solve and hold school leaders accountable in the work. 

Anything else you’d like to share? 

One key thing that we like to do a couple times each year are student empathy interviews. These interviews help us to see what our students are thinking and how we can improve. We have found that our students hold a lot of the answers–we just have to listen. 

This year, CHSS is partnering with our Demonstration Schools to host Learning Labs, which are designed to be an immersive experience wherein participants have an in-depth learning opportunity to see best practices and strategies from our CHSS Roadmap in action at a Demonstration School. These visits are a great opportunity for high school educators and district leadership to learn about 9th Grade Success work through seeing it in action. Both current CHSS network partners and prospective partners are welcome!  View the dates and register to attend here.