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Memphis Daily News
Memphis Seems Headed for ‘Most Improved’ List
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald
August 12, 2013

It is the best of times for Memphis. It is the worst of times. Yes, we have challenges. Yes, we are working on solutions. I love Memphis, but I always hold my breath when those negative lists come out proclaiming the 10 worst cities at everything from health to crime to economics to education.

Lately I have noticed that if Memphis has achieved that dubious distinction, we comfort ourselves with the fact that we’re not as bad as Detroit. It is of little comfort to me not to be the worst of the worst when I see that we have committed ourselves to continuous improvement, and are making great strides. If there were a “Most Improved” list we would be on it!

The only thing keeping us off that list is the way we think about ourselves. We need an attitude adjustment.

It’s tough everywhere. In my new career as a national consultant for education, I have traveled across the country consulting with organizations, businesses, foundations, and educational institutions and systems, all of whom recognize the challenges they are experiencing, and are committed to continuous improvement, no matter how long it takes.

It is never easy. The more dire the situation, the longer it took to get that way. The expression “Rome was not built in a day” applies here, and thus it takes time to address and solve problems. It also takes patience since we live in a world that expects immediate fixes. It takes an attitude adjustment in the way you see yourself. First, you have to believe in yourself and your ability to take the steps necessary to succeed, before others can believe in you.

What is evident to me, across the country, and right here in Memphis, is that where the goal of continuous improvement is working well, people are digging in, taking a stand, a risk, a leap of faith for the sake of the children and their future. We should remember that all areas of Memphis belong to us, whether we live there or not. The education of all children in our city is our responsibility, whether they are our children or not.

Continuous improvement in our city, and in society, hinges on education and the emphasis we place on providing a quality education for all children. We owe it to Memphis to work to provide an educated workforce, good citizens and informed decision-makers who will make the decisions in the future that will positively affect the quality of our lives. In order to achieve these goals, we must ensure that a solid foundation for education is in place for all citizens.
I believe in Memphis. I believe that we will achieve the Top Spot on that Most Improved list.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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