Campus reports to public presented
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Principals of the five campuses in the Hope Public School District have met with district patrons in annual reports to the public which show all campuses participating in a concerted effort to improve student attendance, among other changes and improvements.

Hope High School Principal Bill Hoglund told parents and patrons that HHS faculty and staff are working to bring a “homecoming week” atmosphere to the classroom daily.

Hoglund said HHS is involved in the “Strive for Five” attendance initiative and has received a $1,000 grant from the owners of the Hope Sonic Drive-In to be used toward incentives in that program.

Data from the 2015-2016 school year show absences rising in the second through fourth quarters of the year, particularly among students with more than five days absent. The “Strive for Five” initiative is intended to encourage students and parents to pay attention to factors which foster absences and reduce student absentees to five or fewer per semester.

Hoglund said frequent incentives in recognition of that goal will be forthcoming at HHS. But, he also emphasized that HHS offers its students valuable opportunities that coincide with high school graduation.

A total of 71 HHS students are currently in classes at either the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana or Southern Arkansas University Technical and earning college credit while still in high school.

That sort of opportunity appears to have begun to have an impact at HHS as senior graduation rates rose from 73.7 percent in 2013-14 to 77.5 percent in 2014-15.

“Twenty percent of our seniors already have college credit,” Hoglund said. “Our focus will be on improving our attendance. Then, using assessment data to drive our instruction so that we are better preparing our students for the future.”

Yerger Middle School

New YMS Principal Josclyn Wiley emphasized parent-school collaboration, not only in the new attendance initiative, but also in improved instructional tools.

“Every student should be provided an education that will prepare him or her for a successful future,” Wiley notes in her list of “Non-Negotiable” precepts at YMS.

While working toward a 96 percent student attendance rate, she said YMS has committed to a greater use of technology in the classroom.

“Our goal is to transform our campus into a state-of-the-art learning center that will serve as a model for excellence and student achievement,” Wiley said.

Accordingly, she said a one-to-one technology approach has been adopted to put educational technology into the hands of each YMS student, while asking parents to become more involved with their child’s education.

Wiley said YMS will continue to rely upon Yerger alumni, parents and grandparents as a resource. She also thanked local businesses Taco Bell and McDonald’s for providing community support through classroom incentives. Wiley also thanked an anonymous donor for providing YMS school shirts for students.

“We believe that community trust and support are critical to the success of our district,” she said.

Hope Academy of Public Service

The newest campus in the district opened this fall at the Hope Academy of Public Service, housed in the historic Augustus Garland Building on Sixth Street.

Dr. Carol Duke, principal, said the new open enrollment academy has 156 students in grades five through eight, and is the focus of several new initiatives.

“Strive for Five” has been adopted at the HAPS campus with initial attendance rates near perfect, Duke said.

Instruction at HAPS is classroom based but collaborative and blended, she said. That model has allowed the school to enter a partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, where four master’s degree students will work with HAPS students as part of their degree practicum.

Those interns include Zack Huffman, University of Mississippi; Caroline Dunlap, University of Vermont; Crystal Mercer, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; and Andrew S. Trevinio, University of Colorado at Boulder and UALR School of Law.

Duke said the student body at HAPS will be responsible for one public service project per month throughout the school year in addition to regular studies.

Beryl Henry Elementary School

The campus at Beryl Henry Elementary School is undergoing major expansion as classes continue, BHE Principal Dr. Roy Turner reported.

Those changes, including remodeled offices and a new central entrance, compliment some 25,000-square feet of new academic and multi-purpose space under construction. The expansion will provide added classroom space for science and the arts, as well as an activity room which will double as a community “safe room” for dangerous weather conditions.

Turner said the campus is also organizing a Parent-Teacher Organization directed by Inell Thornton, and new academic intervention and enrichment programs are in place for the current school year.

He said the campus will also offer new technology instruction which follow the goal set by Governor Asa Hutchinson for taking technology into lower grades.

BHE is also involved in the “Strive for Five” initiative, having adopted it through a student logo art contest, with the winning entry becoming part of the districtwide campaign. A campus WatchD.O.G.S. program for dads is also being organized, he said.

“We’re working hard, but we’re trying to work smart,” Turner said.

Clinton Primary School

Ashlea Stewart, principal at Clinton Primary School, said student attendance among the 997 students in grades K-4 has been perfect in the first reporting period for the “Strive for Five” initiative.

There are currently 13 kindergarten classes, 10 first grade classes, nine second grade classes, eight third grade classes and eight fourth grade classes at CPS, Stewart reported.

Stewart said more use of technology is being incorporated into classrooms at CPS through Chromebooks and a greater focus upon data driven assessment is being tied to instruction.

She said a continuing emphasis upon parental involvement has been developed through programs such as the WatchD.O.G.S. group for fathers, and active recognition programs such as “Grandparents’ Day,” which drew some 500 parents and grandparents to the CPS campus.

Enrichment programs such as Gifted/Talented classes and the “Save the Children” program have also remained successful at CPS this year, along with morning and after school programs, Stewart reported.