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Greater East High Foundation Reports Progress from Unique Education Collaboration

Hundreds gathered in the East High auditorium Tuesday, November 20, 2007, as family and friends celebrated the life-changing accomplishments of a 90-year-old educator, a 60-year-old school and a three-year-old student tutoring initiative. Guest speakers included nationally recognized philanthropist Dr. Carolyn Farb and self-made Texas billionaire Red McCombs.

The program recognized the successes of more than 125 East High School students who participate in this year’s tutoring program. The initiative, sponsored by the Greater East High Foundation, has helped students improve performance on standardized tests after a decade of declining scores. In three years, the privately funded program has served more than 350 students.

"We are proud of our scholars and tutors, proud of their extra efforts and proud of their achievements, every day," said East High Principal Frederick W. Curry, Sr., who has changed the environment, created a focus on personal character and raised student and faculty expectations since arriving in 2005 as the seventh principal in ten years.

"We are grateful for the dedication of Margaret Taylor, who started teaching at East in 1955, spent her career in public education and spends time everyday with our students," said Mr. Curry. "We are grateful that philanthropist Carolyn Farb and Red McCombs, one of America’s most successful businessmen, are interested in witnessing what we’re doing at East and sharing their insights."

Charles D. McVean established The Greater East High Foundation, three years ago. Mr. McVean graduated from East High School in 1961 and thereafter from Vanderbilt University with honors. He is the Chairman and CEO of McVean Trading & Investments, an internationally known commodity trading firm. Among others, he recruited his former eighth grade math teacher, Ms. Margaret Taylor. "Lady Margaret," is a renowned educator active in Memphis education for more than 50 years. She celebrates her 90th birthday later this month.

"The singular aim of the Greater East High Foundation is to help students at East High who want to create brighter futures through education," said McVean. "We have invested more than $2 million in the past three years primarily in providing additional professional faculty support, compensating student tutors and providing incentives to mentored students, along with modest investments in infrastructure."

Mr. McVean believes this model and concepts may be effectively established in many of our nation’s schools. Dr. and Mrs. Jerre Freeman have successfully replicated the program at Whitehaven High School.