Education Notebook

Computer courses

given credits heft

Arkansas eighth graders can take computer science and computing courses — if offered by their schools — for high school graduation credit, as the result of state Board of Education action last week.

Most courses offered in grades kindergarten through eight do not count as graduation credit.

The Education Board authorized the awarding of graduation credit to eighth graders for the following:

• Artificial intelligence and machine learning — Year 1

• Computer engineering — Year 1

• Cybersecurity — Year 1

• Data science — Year 1

• Game development and design — Year 1

• Mobile application development — Year 1

• Networking — Year 1

• Programming — Year 1

• Robotics — Year 1

Principal receives

’20 national award

Shavon Jackson, principal of Crawford Elementary School in the Russellville School District, was one of 10 principals in the nation to be named a Terrel H. Bell Award winner in 2020.

The Terrel H. Bell Award recognizes outstanding school leaders and the vital role they play in guiding students and schools to excellence, frequently under challenging circumstances. Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process.

Bobby E. Lester, director of federal programs for the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, highlighted Jackson and the Bell Award along with other federal education awards at a recent meeting of the Arkansas Board of Education.

Jackson is a former high school teacher who has led the 350-pupil kindergarten-through-fourth grade Crawford Elementary since 2017. During her tenure, the school’s state-issued letter grade has moved from a D to a B.

In addition to honors for the principal, Crawford Elementary is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School for closing the achievement gap between subgroups of students.

That Blue Ribbon Award was announced in September for Crawford, as well as for Bernice Young Elementary School in the Springdale School District; Jefferson Elementary School in the Little Rock School District; Saint Joseph Catholic School in Fayetteville in the Diocese of Little Rock; and Eudora Elementary School in the Lakeside School District in Chicot County.

Chamber reveals

educator of year

Quynci Williams, assistant principal at the Pulaski County Special School District’s Sylvan Hills High School, has been selected as the 2020 Sherwood Educator of the Year by the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce.

The honor is a community-centered award process. The Sherwood Chamber accepts applications from the community through social media and local media. Nominations are submitted directly to the chamber and reviewed by a committee of community members and local businesses. The winner is selected by this committee and recognized at the annual Sherwood Chamber Banquet.

“I often state that educators must continually monitor and adjust,” Sylvan Hills High Principal Tracy Allen said. “Ms. Williams has exemplified that this past year with the changes and pivots experienced due to the pandemic and the changes in her work description. Ms. Williams always rolls up her sleeves and attacks the day, and our school and community are the benefactors from her tireless efforts.”

Board moves up

regular meeting

The Little Rock School Board is meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, a week earlier than is typical, because the district is observing spring break vacation the week of March 22-26.

Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore is asking the board to vote at the session on plans for Hall STEAM Magnet High School, which has an enrollment of less than 400 this year in a building that can house as many as 1,000 students.

The recommended plan is for the district to commit to continue the science, technology, engineering, art and math programs started this school year at Hall for at least three more years.

Poore has also talked of establishing a stronger connection between Hall and Forest Heights STEM Academy to form a more coordinated pre-kindergarten-through-12th-grade program. The campuses are fairly close, in neighborhoods on each side of North University Avenue.

Poore said that coordination would allow for unprecedented staffing efficiencies in a district that has seen an overall enrollment decline, which has the potential to decrease state funding for the system.

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