Frayser Community Schools - Our History

If you stop by one of Frayser Community Schools’ locations, you might find Dr. Bobby White dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, inconspicuously talking to students or helping out during lunch duty. It’s an unconventional role for a charter school CEO, but it’s one he says he prefers the most.

About-Us

“If I could be in our schools every day, talking to students and parents, I would.”

This hands-on, intentional approach is what some would say is Frayser Community Schools’ ‘secret sauce’.

White founded the organization in 2014 with the community in mind. This model for operating true neighborhood charter schools has made him a sought-after education professional allowing him and his team to grow Frayser Community Schools from one to three schools in less than five years.

“There were a lot of people who said that we couldn’t do it because we are a homegrown organization without the backing of a larger network,” White said. “We had a lot of people who doubted us.”

Not one to back down from a challenge, the former athlete turned educator became consumed with learning more about education inside and outside of the classroom. Although White admitted that he wanted to prove people wrong, his intentions were always rooted in service and community.

A Memphis native, White’s story is a full-circle tale, with him having ties to each school or community that FCS serves. He graduated from the former Frayser High School in 1990. Almost twenty-five years later, he would begin operating his alma mater as the first school under FCS, renaming it Martin Luther King College Preparatory High School.

Three years after, FCS began operating Humes Middle. The community that surrounds the historic school is where White once lived after staying in a MIFA shelter with his daughter.

During his stint at the shelter, the single father attended Shelby State Community College (now Southwest Community) while working part-time to take care of his daughter, who he learned was deaf during the time.

The obstacles fueled White’s passion. After graduating from Shelby State he received a scholarship to begin attending Lemoyne-Owen College, going on to graduate as salutatorian of his class.

“I majored in history knowing that if I didn’t play professional sports, I would definitely teach.”
Despite his interest in teaching and love of history, White would have several jobs before finding his way into education; but once he stepped foot into his first position at Cypress Middle School, he didn’t look back.

Not one to back down from a challenge, the former athlete turned educator became consumed with learning more about education inside and outside of the classroom. Although White admitted that he wanted to prove people wrong, his intentions were always rooted in service and community.

A Memphis native, White’s story is a full-circle tale, with him having ties to each school or community that FCS serves. He graduated from the former Frayser High School in 1990. Almost twenty-five years later, he would begin operating his alma mater as the first school under FCS, renaming it Martin Luther King College Preparatory High School.

Three years after, FCS began operating Humes Middle. The community that surrounds the historic school is where White once lived after staying in a MIFA shelter with his daughter.

During his stint at the shelter, the single father attended Shelby State Community College (now Southwest Community) while working part-time to take care of his daughter, who he learned was deaf during the time.

The obstacles fueled White’s passion. After graduating from Shelby State he received a scholarship to begin attending Lemoyne-Owen College, going on to graduate as salutatorian of his class.

“I majored in history knowing that if I didn’t play professional sports, I would definitely teach.”
Despite his interest in teaching and love of history, White would have several jobs before finding his way into education; but once he stepped foot into his first position at Cypress Middle School, he didn’t look back.

Spending years in schools, working in an array of roles, including teacher, coach, and assistant principal, White finally landed his first principal job at Westside Middle School. During his tenure the school received national recognition and academic gains. He eventually left his position as principal to begin working on his own organization. With the support of the Tennessee Charter School Incubator, White began drafting the charter application to open FCS.

In 2018, Westside Middle, where he once served as principal, became the third school in Frayser Community School’s portfolio. White says that he understands the plight of many of the students his organization serves, because they’re similar to his own.

Although he had a tumultuous childhood riddled with challenges, the self-motivated achiever would later go on to become the first male in his family to attend college. “I don’t accept excuses from myself or anybody else. I think that if you believe in yourself enough there aren’t any obstacles that can stand in the way.”

Known to challenge his team to develop a ‘legendary mindset’ when it comes to the work, White also reflected on what he wants his own legacy to be. “I first want to be known for being a good father,” he said. “And then I want to know that everybody I came in contact with…that I’ve inspired them in some kind of way. And that’s also one of our goals at Frayser Community Schools.”

With five years under their belt, The FCS team is strategizing for the next five years and beyond; and while there are new things in store for the organization, White says the vision is the same as it was when he first began: to build communities through schools.