Three major initiatives of the Hope Public School District were the focus of the Hope School Board here Monday night, as the district moves toward changing the face of public education in Hempstead County.
Hope Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart introduced Dr. Tom Bennett, organizational development school support program director for the Arkansas Leadership Academy, and ALA Performance Coach Jerry Vaughn, who gave the board an overview of the strategic goals planning which Vaughn has guided for the district.
“This work would not get done without Dr. Hart’s support; his administration, the faculty and staff,” Vaughn said. “And, none of it would get done without you as a school board.”
Vaughn walked the board through key aspects of the past two years of work with the district relative to the organizational culture of the HPSD. He said the overview served as a reminder of the core beliefs, vision, mission and logic model which has developed from that work.
“I’m sharing this with you to give you an idea of the opportunities that you have,” Vaughn said.
He said the development of a positive culture throughout the HPSD is the key to a positive perception of the district throughout the community. That, in turn, attracts teaching talent and retains teaching talent, as well as enrollment growth, Vaughn said.
He said the HPSD is not so different from many other school districts in Arkansas, where in every case communicating across various lines is a key factor in developmental growth. That requires student focused teaching, consistency across the curriculum, and public understanding of the goal, Vaughn said.
“You have people who care, and that is what matters,” he said. “Our goal is to create something that people want to come to.”
District 8 Representative David “Bubba” Powers wanted to know whether there was any statistical data that reflected a common teacher retention goal across Arkansas, or nationally; but, Vaughn said no substantive data has been collected on that point.
“Our focus is upon building systems that support teaching and learning,” he said. “It’s about the people.”
Dr. Hart also introduced University of Arkansas-Hope Chancellor Chris Thomason who, with Hart, discussed the tenth grade pilot cohort of the Hope Collegiate and Professions Academy which will go before the Arkansas Department of Education Charter Committee on Thursday.
Hart said the district is seeking a conversion charter for the proposed grades 10-12 academy housed in the Rapert Library Center at UAH.
He said the pilot class of 23 students includes eight students who moved to the HPSD in order to attend the academy. Hart said the development of the concept is not only an innovation, but a defense against commercially-organized charter schools that have moved into Arkansas.
Thomason said the unique concept is another example of the longstanding, diverse partnerships in innovation between the HPSD and UAH.
“The students have enjoyed it, but have struggled with the rigor at times; but, they are responding as we expected that our own students would respond,” he said.
Thomason said the cohort is housed on the UAH campus, taught by UAH faculty, and adheres to a collegiate level semester class schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday, Thursday classes as found at any college or university.
“This is a very innovative model; it is not even like the Arkansas School for Math and Sciences in Hot Springs,” he said. “Actually, this is a serious extension of the theory behind the Kids College we started on our campus many years ago.”
That concept takes students in elementary through middle school and introduces them to the campus during a two-week period of classes that focus upon subjects at a level often taught outside of the elementary/middle school curriculum.
Applied to the HCP Academy, Thomason said the model is unique across Arkansas and nationally at the high school level.
“It reflects very much what the normal college environment would be, but it is a controlled environment,” he said.
Thomason said the alignment of campus leadership with HPSD campus leadership through the office of Academy Dean Mikki Curtis has been integral from the start.
“And, the pilot has given us an opportunity to learn things we didn’t know,” he said. “We have a long history between our two institutions in successful partnerships.”
Hart also introduced Gretchen Carlton, director of the Hope High School School Based Health Center. The center, due to open in 2019, is in the initial stages of construction renovation of the former home and family sciences “cottage” on the HHS campus. Bids for that work will be opened Oct. 30, Carlton said.
She said protocols for the clinic under the CDC’s vaccination guidelines for minors have been developed as have policies and procedures for clinic operations. Medical services provider credentials are also under review, and enrollment packets for students will be available in the semester prior to the beginning of operations.
Carlton gave an overview of the “Trauma Infused” treatment protocol which addresses a holistic approach to student medical services.
“It’s a different mindset than what a lot of people are accustomed to,” she said.
Carlton said the approach deals with student medicine from the standpoint of root causes such as toxic stress, hunger, or aspects of abusive trauma.