By Emanuel Pena
Two Fort Smith elementary schools had great cause to celebrate Aug. 31.
Both Ballman and Spradling elementary schools were chosen to receive an Arkansas Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Pilot Project Grant. Of the 83 schools that applied for the grant, only 12 were chosen, with Ballman and Spradling being the only two schools chosen from the same school district. One grant did not go to an individual school, but rather to Prescott School District as a whole.
The grants will bring Solution Tree, a national education program, into the fold at the elementary schools to execute the PLC At Work Process.
Through the partnership with Solution Tree and the Arkansas Department of Education, Ballman and Spradling teachers will receive job-embedded coaching for one year. This coaching aims to help teachers help students acheive higher levels of learning. Ultimately, the program will foster in each student a forward-thinking, visionary mindset, the program information states.
Spradling Elementary School Principal Robyn Dawson said she still “can’t fathom” the effect this grant will have on her students. Dawson compared the opportunity the students will receive to a young basketball player learning the fundamentals of the game from Michael Jordan.
Throughout the year the elementary schools spend working with Solution Tree, administrators hope to build collaborative communities between the students and the educational company.
When the ADE created the PLC Grants, the goal was to help schools “increase student achievement through teacher collaboration, a relentless focus on learning, and a results orientation,” according to www.arkansased.gov.
These grants have far-reaching effects. By awarding the grants to elementary schools in Fort Smith, those students will be able to carry their knowledge and ability to think ahead into the rest of their secondary education, administrators said.