HOPE – Drawing from a tenet of the Civitan Club and a tale of nature, newly-installed Hope Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley outlined a vision for the HPS recently that builds upon its already growing success.
“I want Hope to be the best deal going; the premier school district in the state,” Dr. Crossley said of the next step from initiatives in the HPS already in place. “We’re as ripe as Hope watermelon.”
His levity was measured by a serious reflection from the Civitan Creed: “My soul knows no fear but its own unworthiness.”
Crossley said he understands the need in public education in Hope is not shiny things but collaborative growth that is “second generation.”
“Yes, I approach education as a ministry,” he remarked, terming its mission as one of not only preparing all HPS students for “the next step” but helping HPS students’ families make the journey.
Crossley envisioned what he spoke of as the results of the “fifth year” of the bamboo tree.
“You plant a bamboo tree and in the first year it does nothing,” he said. “You water it, take care of it and in the second year, still nothing; the same thing is true in the third year and the fourth year… nothing. Then, in the fifth year something amazing happens… it grows ninety feet.”
The key to the bamboo tree, Crossley said, is that it has a strong root foundation that allows it to grow underground to support its height later. That is what the HPS has been doing in recent years with programs such as the Hope Academy of Public Service, the Hope Collegiate Academy, the Hope High School Concurrent Credit Program, and the Career and Technical Program at the University of Arkansas-Hope.
But, those collaborative programs which prepare HPS students to graduate with an AA degree, a CTE certification, or a military career readiness and an HHS diploma need a root system of family and educational support.
“We have taken a look at ACT and Accuplacer scores and found students who can take that next step,” Crossley said. “We are actively reaching out to those students, telling them, ‘Hey, you did good; we have a spot for you in the collegiate academy, or the other pathway in the career and technical placement.’”
Crossley said the point is to show both students and their parents that the “next step” programs are not a “select” student concept but are available to all HPS students.
“We’re not going to drag them into a program they don’t want to be in; but we are going to be more diligent to make sure they know about the opportunities,” he said.
Crossley believes in the teaching faculty on all HPS campuses, he said, and wants the community to recognize that HAPS and the Collegiate Academy are not the only examples of high-quality teaching and learning in the district.
“We need to expand our communication to highlight the efforts of all of our students,” he said.
He thinks in terms of “Cradle to Career” he said.
“If we don’t have a child prepared for pre-K age three, we’re already behind,” Crossley said.
Consequently, he believes there is a need not only to expand upon what is already in place but to develop more concrete services for parents through the parental engagement centers on each HPS campus.
“There are next steps; there is a clear plan and I can see how we are going to be successful,” he said.