Springdale Schools Blog


posted May 1, 2018, 2:55 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

Kimberly Wilson Jenkins, a three-time all-Southeastern Conference standout at Arkansas who has coached Valley Springs High School to two state championships, has accepted the position of head girls’ basketball coach at Springdale Har-Ber High School.

Jenkins, who has coached at Valley Springs for the past 18 seasons and served as athletic director the last four years, said she is making the move “because coaching at Har-Ber is a great opportunity and this is a great time for my family to make a move. We were able to accomplish a lot at Valley Springs. I’m ready to see if I can do it at this level.”

Excited to be coming to Har-Ber, Jenkins admitted it was difficult to leave a program she had led for 18 seasons.

“We had an emotional team meeting at Valley Springs,” Jenkins said. “We were and always will be a family. I even had a few players whose mothers I coached. It was clearly presented to us that Har-Ber is family, too. This is a great team to be a part of.”

Jenkins led her teams to 487 victories and state championships in 2010 and 2016 while at Valley Springs. Her teams also reached the state championship game in 2004, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2017.

Selected on the all-SEC Freshman team during her first year at Arkansas, she was all-SEC in 1995, ’96 and ’97 and still ranks fifth on the UA women’s all-time scoring list with 1,755 points. She was recruited to Arkansas by head coach John Sutherland, whose assistant coaching staff included Tracey Stehlik, wife of current Springdale athletic director Wayne Stehlik. Jenkins played her last three seasons under the direction of coach Gary Blair.

“Tracey recruited Kimberly to Arkansas and I’ve had the opportunity to recruit her to Har-Ber,” Wayne Stehlik said. “Kimberly will be a great addition to the faculty and coaching staff at Har-Ber High School. She will create a winning culture in the locker room and on the court. She has a great vision for the Har-Ber girls’ basketball program.”

After graduating from Arkansas, Jenkins was an assistant coach at New Mexico State, Tulsa and North Arkansas College for a year each before becoming head coach at Valley Springs. While at Valley Springs she earned her master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Central Arkansas.

She and her husband, Quincy, have been married 20 years and have two sons, Lawson, 16, and Connor, 13.

Martinson Returns to Volunteer

posted Apr 26, 2018, 10:46 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Apr 26, 2018, 10:49 AM ]

Jo Martinson thought her teaching career was over. After 20 years at J.O. Kelly Middle School, where she helped principal Sara Ford open the school, Martinson retired four years ago. She and her husband, who retired at the same time, have been traveling and enjoying life. Only one problem. Jo still has a passion to teach.

“I love teaching kids math,” said Martinson. “I understand it. I know it. I’ve done some substituting but that’s not much fun when you are used to having your own classroom. I did some tutorial work at Hellstern. But, a couple of months ago, Sara (Ford) called and asked if I would like to teach two small groups of girls who needed additional help with their math. I was happy to help.”

So, every Tuesday and Thursday Martinson has spent 45 minutes with each group of a dozen girls. She said, “It wasn’t just test prep for the ACT Aspire but it was helping them understand the concepts so they could more easily answer the test questions.

“We’ve made some progress and the work has been very satisfying. I have been building relationships with the students but don’t know them quite as well as I would if I was with them the entire year. The hours are flexible and I feel like I’m doing some good.”

Martinson adds, “It’s low stress, fun and rewarding. It’s the best part of teaching. It’s all instruction time. It’s more individualized.”

Why was Martinson so eager to return, even for two days per week?

“I missed teaching,” she responded. “I was talking to another retired teacher who told me I should follow my passion, even though I am retired. Teaching math is my passion so here I am.”

She and her husband, David, who served at the University of Arkansas for over two decades until retiring, love to travel and still can do so. But, Martinson was looking for a little more.

“I had taught at Parson Hills before J.O. Kelly opened,” Martinson said. “I was a sixth grade math teacher but when I started sixth grade was still at the elementary level. J.O. Kelly and Tyson Middle School opened the same year. It was a natural move for me.

“It is great to be able to come back and help Sara. She is amazing. Talk about someone with a calling, she’s it. Plus, there are still several teachers here who I taught with. I am experiencing the joy of being retired but I still want to do something of value.”

Ask any of the girls she is working with and they will tell you Jo Martinson is doing something of value. She is another reason Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

Springdale High, Business Partners Invite Students In To Tech Careers

posted Apr 20, 2018, 1:19 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Apr 24, 2018, 7:26 AM ]

Looking for a great, high paying career at a major company? You should have been at Springdale High School when technology representatives of Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport invited students to consider a world of opportunities in the technological field.

“We’re here to help students get into IT careers,” said Becca Shaddox, Director of STEM Strategy for Walmart. “We brought some cool tech with us to inspire these students. If they see it, they can see themselves in it. There are a multitude of career availabilities in technology right now.”

Jenni Kimpel, a Springdale High graduate who has worked in technology at J.B. Hunt for 12 years, added, “We are encouraging students to think about IT because the field is growing faster than we can keep up. We need students ready to enter the work force. At J.B. Hunt we are aiming to be more technology than transportation. We are on the cutting edge of technology.”

Leighton Long of Tyson Foods noted, “Kids need to be considering a technology career. It is the wave of the future. What got you here won’t get you there. Every day students use their phones and laptops. Why not work in the field? I graduated from New Mexico State with a degree in information systems. Some of my classes only had four or five students in them. I started in tech earlier than most of my classmates. When they graduated many of them were still wondering what they were going to do. I went to work immediately and now serve as an analyst supporting transportation at Tyson.”

Kimpel told students she also started early in tech.

“I took computer programing and all the advanced math courses I could while I was at Springdale High,” Kimpel said. “I got an industrial engineering degree at the University of Arkansas and was interning at J.B. Hunt before graduating and working full time there.”

Each company had a team of presenters and encouraged students to apply for internships as well as consider computer classes and Springdale’s IT Academy if they weren’t already involved.

“Springdale High School’s IT Academy is amazing,” said Shaddox, who earned a Computer Information Systems Degree at the University of Arkansas. “They do amazing things here. Their IT staff has served as a model for other schools. We love working with Springdale High. I was here a few weeks ago to talk to students about launching a Girls Who Code Club here. Three girls changed their schedules to get into computer science.”

Kathy Johnson and Josefina Perez direct the IT Academy and arranged the all-day sessions that included over 600 SHS students rotating during each class period. Every math class and students who are interested in teaching attended.

“We have been very excited about this,” said Perez. “I grew up in California and never saw corporate support in our high school. To see three of the world’s leading companies come together to support our students is overwhelming.

“Our students need to take advantage of this opportunity. These companies are here because they want to eventually employ them. Parents in our district need to be aware of the opportunities our students have. Most want a better future for their children. That future is here. I’m proud of what we have for kids at Springdale High School.

Members of the Walmart, Tyson and J.B. Hunt teams interacted with the students after their presentations and a technology game. They took names of those who would be interested in summer internships.

Throughout the day students were excited about what they were hearing and experiencing. One day they may be the ones returning to invite the next wave of SHS students to consider a career in technology. #THEChoice

Westwood Fifth Graders Already Thinking About College, Future

posted Apr 3, 2018, 7:52 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

Chantel Cano, Adrian Iraburo and Charles Pulham are best friends. They are fifth graders at Westwood Elementary. They share plenty in common including planning for their futures.

Chantel, Adrian and Charles are already thinking about college even though none of their parents went to college. Chantel wants to be a veterinarian. Adrian hopes robotics is in his future. Charles would like to design video games. Pretty amazing for fifth graders, isn’t it?

“I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was in kindergarten,” says Chantel. “I have always liked animals, any animals. We have a dog, Chico, who is part Yorkie, part Poodle. I also like to help other animals. There are some kittens in our neighborhood that I give food and water when they need them.”

Chantel, who will go to Tyson Middle School as a sixth grader next year, says her dad has been an influence in her early career choice. She notes, “He likes animals, too, and I’ve watched shows about vets on TV with him.”

Her father also takes Chantel fishing and has taught her to be creative. She says, “When he was growing up he would make toy horses out of wood, tape and rubber bands. He has taught me to creatively make things.”

Adrian and Charles participate in Westwood’s EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) program. Adrian has enjoyed EAST and looks forward to becoming involved in robotics as a sixth grader at the Don Tyson School of Innovation.

“I’ve learned a lot in EAST,” says Adrian. “There are a lot of smart minds who work with you. It’s been hard but I’ve pushed through it. I’ve learned some coding and have been introduced to a lot of technology.”

Charles, who will join Chantel at Tyson Middle School next year, spends a lot of time not only playing video games but studying them. He says EAST and Westwood’s International Baccalaureate program have been challenging.

“IB really pushes you,” Charles says. “I came here in second grade and IB made me work much harder. I love the teachers and the atmosphere here. The teachers are nice and want us to have fun while we learn.”

Why is Charles already thinking about college?

“My parents didn’t graduate from high school,” Charles responds. “My dad has already told me I’m going to college the day after I finish high school.”

Chatel adds, “My parents didn’t finish high school either but my mom reads a lot and I like to read, too. I read a lot of books. Mom and dad know I want to be a vet.”

Adrian is being encouraged at home, too. He says, “My dad dropped out before finishing high school but he wants me to go to college. My goal is to go to MIT. It’s in Boston, so I would have to be a long way from home but that’s where I want to go.”

Each of Springdale’s Public Schools places an emphasis on thinking of college and career, even the elementary schools. That’s one of the reasons Chatel, Adrian and Charles are so happy with their school.

“I love going to school here,” says Chantel. “Westwood is an open place. By that I mean they are open to different ideas in the projects we do. Plus, Charles and Adrian and I are really good friends and we have other friends, too. We like to talk about a lot of things.”

Charles adds, “Chantel really likes to talk about puppies. I think she knows every kind of puppy there is.”

Adrian’s love for animals is a little more limited. Since studying pre-historic sharks early in his elementary years, he has developed a fascination with sharks.

“Studying about Megalodon made me think about how big just one of its teeth was,” says Adrian. “It got me interested in sharks. I’ve only seen sharks in an aquarium but they are fascinating to me.”

Chantel, Adrian and Charles are only fifth graders who are about to enter the sixth grade but each of them have fascinating futures thanks to going to school in Springdale. It’s another reason Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

George Junior High ELL Teacher Loves Travel, Professional Development

posted Mar 2, 2018, 9:23 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

Cheryl Tupper, part time ESL Instructional Facilitator at George Junior High, describes herself as “a summer professional development freak.” To prove it, she has made several amazing PD excursions and wants other teachers to know the opportunities that are available.

“Last summer I went to a national initiative at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian,” said Tupper. “It was fascinating. I hope someone else from our district will have the opportunity to go this year. There were only two from Arkansas last summer and I believe they are only taking one from our state this year.”

Tupper said her experience from last summer has allowed her to “learn more about Native American history. I teach social studies and used the Smithsonian’s interactive website to help me teach about the Trail of Tears this year. We practically lived in the museum for a week and gained an entirely new understanding of Native Americans. They have survived and many of them are thriving today even as they keep their culture and traditions.

“That is an especially important message for our English Language Learners. They have come from other countries and it is important for them to keep their culture and traditions even as they incorporate into ours. Spending a week at the Museum of the American Indian has allowed me to teach snippets that aren’t available in the textbooks.”

Where else has Tupper been?

“I attended a session at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia one summer,” she responds. “That was wonderful. We were each given a copy of the Declaration of Independence that was printed in Ben Franklin’s print shop. It is still in operation today.

“Another summer I went to Ellis Island for professional development in Immigration, Public Health and the American Workforce. We learned the process of how immigrants came to Ellis Island. I went to New Approaches to Immigration History in Minneapolis, Thirteen Colonies at Princeton, a Textile Mills Workshop in Lowell, a suburb of Boston and America’s Industrial Revolution at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

“The Ford Museum was fascinating. Henry Ford advertised in publications all over the country and asked for donations of anything that was American. The museum has Noah Webster’s cabin and Abraham Lincoln’s law office. He was also given the Goodyear Farm which is still a working farm.”

Tupper must have loved the Goodyear Farm since she and her husband, Brent, live on a farm in Clifty, a 35-minute drive from George Junior High.

“My husband is retired from financial services so he takes care of the farm during the day and when I attend the summer professional develop sessions,” Tupper said. “I grew up on a farm so it is familiar to me. We have several animals. Brent grew up in Portland, Maine but he has adapted to living on a farm in Arkansas.”

Does she have plans for this summer?

“I’ve applied for three opportunities and hope I get one,” she said. ‘I applied for Every Day Life in the Colonies at Yale University, Westward Expansion in Boulder, Colorado, and the Colonies to the Civil War at George Washington University.”

In the meantime she continues to love her work at George.

“In 2002 I was in Eureka Springs and we didn’t know anything about working with ELL students,” Tupper said. “I called the Arkansas Department of Education for help and they told me to call Springdale because Springdale was in the middle of it.

“I began learning under Judy Hopson and continued to learn under her until I got my master’s degree in 2013. I had been trying to get a position in Springdale for several years. In 2013 they started a Language Academy at George Junior High and I was able to move to this district. We started the year with eight students and finished with 23. It was so much fun. The kids are so genuine. They do neat things. If you love them they will love you back. This is a great place.

“When I was at Eureka Springs we started with two girls. While I was working with them they asked me to please stay and help them. We had 13 ELL students in grades k-8 and the teachers didn’t know what to do. Judy told us by the second year we would be much better and she was right. Every time I came back to Springdale and visited with Judy, I learned. That’s why I wanted to work here.”

At George Tupper is one of four eighth grade Language Arts teachers. She said, “We collaborate, integrating social studies, math, science and language arts. Kelly Allison is the science teacher. Karen Cross teaches math and Tamika Pennington teaches English.

“We have access to lots of data through testing. The ninth grade ESL instructors tell us our students are on level when they advance to them. That motivates us. We look for gaps and get the students ready for ninth grade.

“We work in a great district,” Tupper concluded. “I am a great advocate for Springdale. We are fired up and moving forward every day.”

Tupper is a great example of why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

Har-Ber Principal Selected for Dominican Republic Community Project

posted Feb 23, 2018, 8:46 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

After Springdale Har-Ber High School principal Danny Brackett learned he had been selected as one of a 45-person team to visit the Dominican Republic as part of the 2018 Lifetouch Memory Mission, he was told he would see a level of poverty he had never seen before.

“I certainly witnessed poverty but what I observed was richness of spirit,” Brackett said. “The people, especially the kids, had joy and hope and were very loving. It was a life changing experience. I would like to go back.”

Lifetouch, the business that specializes in school pictures, has been coordinating Memory Missions since 2000. The 2018 trip was the seventh year a team has gone to the Dominican Republic to build education facilities in the village of Cecaini and Rio Grande. The volunteer work team included 29 educators from around the country and 16 Lifetouch employees. They spent a week continuing work on the educational facilities including the cafeteria and basketball court.

“I’ve been watching the videos about the Lifetouch projects for years,” Brackett said. “This year I am on the National Association of Secondary School Principals and every year at least one board member is selected for the trip. At my first board meeting we all put our name tags in a hat for a drawing to go. Mine was the first selected. As it was, we got to send three board members this year.”

Normally the team is selected in the summer but this year it happened in November, considerably shortening preparation time.

“We received a ton of information by webinars and I called principals from Cabot and Green Forest who had been on previous trips,” said Brackett. “On January 15 we met in Atlanta for leadership training. Of the team of educators, I knew only two. We flew to the Dominican Jan. 16 and had four interpreters with us. They were extremely valuable.

“After a morning of training, we started work the first full afternoon we were there. We did everything by hand and worked at the site for four and a half days with Sunday off. The classrooms had been finished so our goal was the cafeteria and the kitchen. We also did the digging and pouring and setting of the footing for an outdoor basketball court.

“It was very physical work. I assisted in laying block, using a pick axe and a square shovel. It was exciting when we poured the concrete.”

While the work was hard, the time with members of the community was heartwarming.

“We had one hour recess with the kids every day,” Brackett said. “We played with them and learned a lot about the community. We also did home visits. Most of the homes were small, wood framed and tin roofed.

“I visited with a woman in her 70s who had 23 children and at least 40 grandchildren. She was fascinating. We talked about how and what they ate. They are very clean people. Cleanliness is very important to them. Playing with the kids and visiting homes are things I will always remember.”

Every night the team divided into small groups for reflection.

“We discussed what we had learned,” said Brackett. “Our interpreter told us, ‘We pray for our needs and are grateful for what we have.’ That certainly impacted me.

“On the last day Lifetouch did family photos and provided them free to all the families of the community. It took about two and a half hours. Leaving was very emotional. Again I witnessed the richness of spirit of the people there.”

The crew didn’t quite finish the project. Another team will go in July to complete the work with a dedication planned for October. On the way out Brackett and the team saw where parts of Jurassic Park were filmed.

Brackett shared his experience with Har-Ber faculty and staff members and planned to meet with students who wanted to hear about his trip to the Dominican Republic.

“I was proud of our school,” Brackett said. “We shipped 12 boxes of used baseball and softball uniforms, hundreds of backpacks, soccer balls, basketball shoes and t-shirts contributed by Hellstern and Tyson Middle Schools. They love sports, particularly baseball, in the Dominican Republic and it was great to be able to help them. I took two bags on the trip and left everything I took with me.

“It was physically hard work but that’s not what I will remember. I thought I was going to give but I came back knowing how much I had received. It made me appreciate Springdale even more. We need to empower our students with positiveness and hope. We do that in Springdale Schools.

Another reason why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice!

Springdale Har-Ber High Senior is set for United States Naval Academy

posted Feb 19, 2018, 12:34 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

A senior year of high school is filled with a vast amount of changes and decisions. Choosing a path of college or career is a part of the process. For Megan LaMendola, a senior at Springdale Har-Ber High School, she too has a choice to make after being accepted into three United States Service Academies.

“I started looking into the service academies and I fell in love with the institutions and the mindset that they have at the schools,” LaMendola said. “I would be surrounded by the best of the best and that would push me to be a better person.”

Between the United States Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, and the U.S. Naval Academy, she has chosen to attend the Naval Academy. The United States Naval Academy is a four year coeducational federal service academy located in Annapolis, Maryland.

“I love Annapolis,” LaMendola said. “I love the people. I love talking to the students and alumni of the Naval Academy. That is where my heart was leading me.”

After four years of schooling, LaMendola has a five-year commitment to the Navy.

“I see myself in the Navy Fleet being an officer and leading others,” LaMendola said.

On top of the educational and career opportunities, LaMendola also has the chance to play soccer at the Naval Academy. She started playing soccer when she was three years old.

“It has always been my dream to play Division I soccer,” LaMendola said. “I started meeting with the coach at the end of my sophomore year. I was told I have a lot of potential and may be able to walk on the team depending on numbers.”

The U.S. Naval Academy has a very selective acceptance rate of 8%.

“I know for a fact that without my leadership positions and participation in school clubs, I would not have been able to get into the service academies,” LaMendola said.

LaMendola’s senior year has included a number of leadership positions. She is the Public Relations Officer of Student Council, President of the Board of National Honor Society, and Vice President of the Senior Class.

“I love being involved in school,” LaMendola said. “I have gotten to know so many more students and teachers. I can always count on knowing someone in school from a club.”

In addition to her extracurriculars, LaMendola is currently taking four Advanced Placement classes for a total of eight in her high school career. Her favorite senior year memory so far is being crowned Fall Homecoming Queen 2017. Megan LaMendola is another example of how Springdale Public Schools is #THEChoice.

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posted Jan 23, 2018, 11:53 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Jan 23, 2018, 12:09 PM ]

Gracie Marvin was born in China and adopted when she was 17 months old by Michael and Julie Marvin. She was born without a right hand but is very independent for a seven-year-old. Her one wish? To be able to ride a bicycle without training wheels. Thanks to a combined effort of Shaw and Don Tyson School of Innovation Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) students, Gracie’s wish has come true.

“She’s always wanted to ride her bike without training wheels but she couldn’t keep a bike balanced with just one hand,” said her cousin Leah, a fifth grader and member of Shaw’s EAST program. “Her mom told me she would like to have a device that would allow her to ride her bike. Our EAST students talked about it and wanted to help.”

Shaw is in its first year of having an EAST program and the students realized they needed some help. A connection was made with the EAST program at the Don Tyson School of Innovation and the project was underway. Steicy Lopez, a ninth grader at DTSOI, figured a device made on a 3D printer would be just what Gracie needed.

“Steicy is incredible with a 3D printer,” said DTSOI EAST facilitator Wade Ward. “I can’t imagine anyone better in our entire district. She was excited to take on the project.

Lopez added, “There were multiple visits with Gracie. We went to her school and she came to ours. We took measurements and worked on a design that would look good, be comfortable and work.”

Lopez and her peers also wanted to make sure Gracie had a new bike. They used proceeds from their school’s coffee shop to purchase a new bicycle and helmet for Gracie. The Shaw first grader knew she was getting the device because of the fittings she had participated in. The new bike and helmet were a surprise.

“No,” Gracie said when asked if the bike she was receiving was her old bike. “Yes,” she said when asked if she was excited. How often would she ride it? “A lot,” she responded. What did she like most about the device? “It’s comfortable.”

It was surprising she was able to respond at all after her classroom was invaded by television cameras and guests who were there for the presentation.

“This is amazing,” said Gracie’s mom, Julie. “Gracie can do just about anything but she can’t ride a bicycle without training wheels. Now she will be able to because of this device.”

Just to be sure, Gracie made a trial run through the hall of Shaw Elementary. She had to be thrilled to hear her classmates shouting, “Gracie, Gracie, Gracie!”

It was a beautiful collaborative effort between the students at DTSOI and Shaw. As a result, Gracie Marvin will be riding her bicycle unrestricted by training wheels. This is another example why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

George Fifth Grader Wants To Be An Engineer

posted Jan 11, 2018, 12:53 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Jan 11, 2018, 12:54 PM ]

    Italia Cruz was playing a video game three years ago that produced an immediate interest in robotics. The more she studied the subject the more she became determined to become a robotics engineer when she finishes college. While her eyes are set firmly on a future in engineering, Italia is only 11 years old. She is a fifth grader at George Elementary.

A fifth grader with a career path already outlined? Amazing, isn’t it? Her principal, Dr. Annette Freeman says Italia “is an extraordinary girl.”

Freeman thought so highly of Italia that chose the future engineer as one of three students to outline their future goals in front of the School Board at its January meeting. Italia gave a flawless presentation. She was merely sharing ideas she has been focused on for quite some time.

What about the video game hatched her initial interest in robotics?

“The game was called ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s,’” says Italia. “In the game I was the night guard and there were four robots who provided entertainment for people. At night the robots would try to kill the night guard. I really liked how the robots looked. Since then they have released four more games and three books.”

Italia (who escaped the robots in the video game) loves to read anyway and she devoured the three books that came with the games. There were details about how the robots were made and how they worked.

“I started researching robotic engineers, including what they do and what they make,” Italia says. “Then, last year, my friend Valerie and I went to an engineering camp at Springdale High School. There was a lot of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) information and we learned about different fields of engineering. They didn’t have robotics engineering but said that would fall under mechanical engineering. It was really fun and I made a lot of friends from other schools who were at the camp.”

She plans to return to SHS for an engineering camp in February but is juggling her choice of future schools. Her normal pathway would lead her to J.O. Kelly Middle School, George Junior High and Springdale High School. That route is appealing to her but so is the Don Tyson School of Innovation, which is beginning to take sixth graders in the fall of 2018.

“I have a cousin at the School of Innovation now,” says Italia. “He really likes it. I could go there or eventually be in the engineering academy at Springdale High School.”

Already she is thinking beyond high school. She says, “In researching robotics engineers, it says four years of college is necessary. Once I get out of college I will be looking for a job. I would like to be involved with creating artificial intelligence. I hope it’s still a big topic by then.”

Until then she will enjoy her final semester at George. She’s been there since kindergarten and loves the school. She says, “Education here is fun and I’ve made a lot of friends. I especially like reading, science and math.”

Italia has a sister who is in the fourth grade at George as well as a 15-month-old brother. She is excited about her future and whichever school she attends will be gaining an excellent member of its robotics team.

It’s amazing that Italia already has set her career goals but maybe not that amazing when considering that a prime focus of Springdale Public Schools is to prepare all of its students for college and/or career. Italia is another reason while Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

Clark Knows the Route to Success

posted Nov 7, 2017, 1:15 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Nov 7, 2017, 1:15 PM ]

Yolanda Clark is ready to start her day and is on her bus by 6:30 am. In her eighth year with Springdale Public Schools, Clark takes time to reflect on her time and reveal the characteristics of a standout Springdale bus driver.

After Clark’s husband suggested that she apply for the bus driver position, Clark obtained her CDL and started training.

“The Transportation department provided all the training I needed,” Clark said. “Now, I believe that driving a bus is easier than driving a car.”

Clark drives her regular routes, shuttles students from one school to the next, does field trips and drives for the After School Program.

“I was prepared but when I first started driving, I had another driver with me,” Clark said. “Having another person with me put me at ease.”

Before becoming a bus driver for Springdale Schools, Clark moved to the United States 13 years ago not knowing English. Clark recalls the difficulties of being 40 and having to learn a whole new language. Clark uses her experience to relate to some of the students she drives everyday.

“Even if I don’t speak their language, I always at least try to communicate with the students,” Clark said. “I understand that dealing with the language barrier is difficult.”

Clark’s favorite part about the job is being put in a position to serve. She enjoys helping people and as a bus driver, she can do her part in getting each student the education he or she deserves.

“I feel really good when I can help someone,” Clark said. “I had the chance to drive the language academy route for three years. Some of those kids get to America and are on a school bus the next day. They know little to no English. They are scared.”

Clark has driven students of all ages, from kindergarteners to high schoolers. After eight years of bus driving, Clark has been impacted by several students.

“I try to help by talking to them and interacting with students,” Clark said. “There was one student I remember in particular. She was crying because she couldn’t communicate with anyone so I did my best to help her through the day. I ended up meeting her mom and getting to know their family after a while.”

Clark doesn’t only transport students during her day. One of Clark’s routes include transporting moms to Sonora Elementary.

“Another opportunity that Springdale Public Schools offers is the Family Literacy Program,” Clark said. “There are opportunities to learn beyond the students. The Literacy moms that I transport get the opportunity to learn with their students.”

The Family Literacy Program gives parents the opportunity to develop their English language skills and allows parents to sit in on special classes with their student. Programs are also provided by Springdale Schools to aid parents in obtaining their GED.

“My favorite thing about Springdale Public Schools is that every child has the opportunity to learn and a way to be transported in order to learn,” Clark said.

Yolanda Clark’s passion for her job and the students makes her another example of why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

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