Tuesday, November 27, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Saluting our best schools

Arnold Drive Elementary on Little Rock Air Force Base has been honored numerous times over the years, capturing about all the academic kudos available, and it has now garnered another one.

It was recently named an “exemplary” school by the state. To be in the “exemplary” category of state schools is a big deal. Only five schools across the state received such a title or honor.

Arnold Drive may be the only exemplary school in central Arkansas, but the Beebe School District also needs a shout out. Nearly all of its schools have been named “achieving,” placing them in the second-best category.

Those Beebe schools include Beebe Elementary, Beebe Junior High, Beebe High School, Badger Elementary and the Beebe Early Childhood facility.

Other area schools also in the “achieving” category and doing well are Cabot’s Westside, Southside, Mountain Springs and Ward Central elementary schools, Cabot Middle School South and Cabot Junior High North. Also “achieving” from Pulaski County Special School District are Clinton and Oakbrooke elementary schools and Sylvan Hills Middle School.

The Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School and Lisa Academy North elementary and middle schools were listed as “achieving.”

But most of our area schools fall into the third and fourth categories of “needs improvement” or “needs improvement focus.”

Two area schools are in the bottom category, “needs improvement priority.” They are Harris Elementary and Jacksonville High School.

However, let’s for the moment celebrate, the good news of the day since ’tis the season.

Arnold Drive, being named exemplary, means the school has its act together. The teaching is on track and on target. There is learning going on. The students are getting it and advancing at either the required pace or even faster. Not just the smart students or the good students, but all students.

And with that strong push for learning, Arnold Drive hasn’t forgotten to throw some fun into the regimen. Earlier in the fall, the school participated in a worldwide run to help set a record for most 100-yard races in a 24-hour period. All the students got out on a cold wet Friday afternoon, ran the course and cheered others on.

That’s the other thing that is being taught and modeled, but doesn’t show up as a test score, and that’s camaraderie: a spirit of familiarity and trust existing between friends.

The Beebe School District is also going places. Five of its campuses are all achieving. The district is just on the cusp of exemplary — all it has to do is make a few tweaks to make sure every child is progressing in every way. That’s got to be a good feeling for the administration, the teachers and students — that students are running right up there near the top, and with just an extra burst here or there, they will break into the exemplary category.

Thank you, Arnold Drive Elementary, Beebe School District and other achieving schools for not just setting a high bar of achievement and expectations, but reaching it time after time after time. May the schools in the lower categories emulate you and make all of central Arkansas smarter, brighter and proud.