by Ken McLemore
HOPE – The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the education process and progress in the Hope Public Schools is a focus of school improvement programming that will carry into the 2022-2023 academic year, the HPS Board of Education learned recently.
HPS School Improvement Specialist Carla Narlesky emphasized the point in a report to the board at its April 18 monthly meeting.
“Schools are making every effort to address potential learning loss due to the pandemic,” Narlesky said. “With the implementation of new English Language Arts K-12 and Social Studies 5-12 curriculum programs for the 2022-2023 school year, I feel as though we are heading in the right direction.”
A redoubled effort to extend and improve grant-based programs such as the SOAR and RISE literacy initiatives is at the heart of the district’s plan to broaden literacy and literacy awareness throughout the community.
Narlesky said the HPS has applied for an additional $200,000 in SOAR grant funds over the next two years to expand Pre-Kindergarten and first grade family literacy engagement. The program currently offers a Book of the Quarter and Readers’ Club initiatives, with campus visits via Zoom this year by author Eli Cranor.
The RISE Community initiative currently offers free books at Book Nook locations throughout Hope for families to acquire books for a home library without cost, she said. Access locations include Piggly Wiggly, Hebrews 11:1, Caney Creek Estates offices, Hope in Action, Ivan Smith Furniture, BancorpSouth, TABS, Paradise, SMILES of Arkansas/Dr. Robert Carter
DDS, Farmers Bank and Trust, First National Bank of Tom Bean, and El Agaves restaurant.
Narlesky said the program is being duplicated by other school districts around the state, as a result.
Grant-based funding for Tier 1 Mathematics over the next two years is designed to provide for implementation of the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum in grade six geometry and the addition of Algebra II and accompanying professional development.
Principals have played an active role in the entire process and will continue to do so through a new quarterly growth planning concept, according to Narlesky.
Teacher support through the National Institute of Excellence in Teaching will focus upon rigor and relevance in the classroom, while support through the Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education will focus upon new curriculum development and direct training sessions in April and May, Narlesky said.
Professional development planning will incorporate a districtwide PD Guiding Coalition and rewrite of the district’s professional development plan, while streamlining the PD process for teachers, she said.
The HPS will continue its curriculum partnership with the Waterford curriculum at Clinton Primary School. On the district level, English Language Arts and social studies teams will continue curriculum development and recommendations for the purchase of new curriculum materials.
“We are committed to providing an excellent education for all students along with supporting teachers in their educational practices,” Narlesky said.