The car is loaded, and with great anticipation Marsha and Carolyn can’t help but hum “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Our job is to work with schools in Arkansas that want to innovate and try new ideas to improve learner outcomes. We are looking for the bright spots, places that make your heart sing about schools, teachers and kids. In this work, we have the pleasure and the pain of navigation bloopers, lost GPS signals and missed exits.
What Carolyn? Turn left, no right, no what does that mean? It’s one way. STOP. Whew!
We talk to a lot of people, we hear your stories, and we want to share. We also search for and try local cuisine wherever we wind up, so here goes.
Carolyn here: Yesterday we hopped in Marsha’s car and tooled down some winding roads, past XNA to the small town of Decatur. I always enjoy rolling into Decatur and seeing the train engine that greets everyone before turning at the Dollar Store and heading up to the school.
Day brighteners from Decatur school visit: a small city nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.
Decatur staff pull together to meet student needs. Decatur is using their best thinking to see how to make the resources they have meet all the needs of the students. Decatur values spending time building relationships with students to know their kiddos. They have begun using the Choose Love curriculum to teach kids how to choose love in any circumstance. Successful effort in their RTI practices have resulted in student growth on their MAP testing.
We enjoyed listening to stories about how well the staff cares about and for the students.
Decatur Schools are searching for ways to make their PLC work more effectively, so this is a shout out to any school that has PLC’s that are rockin’ to send us an email so we can get you in touch with Decatur and build our network of learners learning together.
Keep up the good work Decatur and hope to visit again soon!
Getting back on the road, now in our rental, this honkin’, big, black Escalade, Marsha and I set off for Arkadelphia in the rain. Looking suspiciously conspicuous in this ship of an SUV, we rolled down 49, surrounded by semis and determined drivers. Marsha drives one handed while we confer on a call with ADE as I watch traffic, make car sounds, and generally entertain myself with the instrument panel on the Escalade. After surviving Little Rock rush hour traffic, hunger was our main concern as we searched for restaurants in Arkadelphia.
I suppose on a bright sunny day, the approach to Slim & Shorty’s would be normal. On a raining, cold, Tuesday night in January, it was downright spooky (Marsha still looks under the bed at night–in every hotel we stay in!). Reassured by the cop car outside, we dashed through the rain, right into small town Margaritaville. The theme was Florida beach, complete with the big marlin on the wall and an Endless Summer poster. The service was quick, food plentiful and the atmosphere welcoming. Great way to end our endless drive into southern Arkansas.
Souvenir to keep from this day:
Community shapes culture. Local flavor is identity.
Seeing a very elderly lady being carefully escorted into the Western Sizzlin in Arkadelphia by a young man who was taking her to lunch.
We had a great lunch experience at the Western Sizzlin. It was like being transported back in time, but better because a great lunch got topped off by the soft serve ice cream. Lots of life is more tolerable because of soft serve ice cream. Hats off to Western Sizzlin for providing choice and excitement to their younger patrons with the Spin the Wheel treasure chest. Marsha and I are big on spinning the wheel.
Heading into Prescott, we were led to Prescott High School by the paw prints on the street. Home of the Curley Wolves! We weren’t there five minutes before Marsha was deep into who do we know in common. Turns out, two of our favorite people, Coach Brad and Megan Harris, are good friends with the principal, Tommy Poole! Small world. Prescott is doing great things with their PLC work and according to Mr. Poole, it has been a game changer for the school. Principal Poole got to talking about their outstanding agriculture education program and the opportunity it provides for hands-on learning for students to connect their classroom learning with real-world applications.
When we infiltrated the district PLC meeting, it was a sight to see and hear the entire K-12 faculty in one room.
The BUZZ!!! You could hear and see the intense concentration on the importance of the decisions they were making about how to put their students front and center .
High Five for Prescott!!! Year two of the Professional Learning Communities pilot program is changing the conversation. Great work and inspiring to see.