Spring­dale chooses an aca­demic coach

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRENDA BERNET Brenda Bernet can be reached by email at bber­net@nwadg.com or on Twit­ter @NWABrenda.

SPRING­DALE — A HarBer High School teacher is the dis­trict’s new aca­demic coach, fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment made Tues­day night.

Mar­cia Smith, who over­sees cur­ricu­lum for Spring­dale School Dis­trict’s mid­dle, ju­nior high and high schools, named Michael Fotenop­u­los to the po­si­tion dur­ing the monthly School Board meet­ing. Fotenop­u­los has taught Ad­vanced Place­ment world his­tory at Har- Ber High School.

“We have very high ex­pec­ta­tions for this po­si­tion,” Smith said.

The role was cre­ated a year ago to ful­fill a de­sire by the School Board to have an em­ployee fo­cus on push­ing high school stu­dents to­ward high achieve­ment. Nan­dra Campbell, who was an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at West­wood El­e­men­tary School, spent a year in the aca­demic coach role.

Campbell joined Fayetteville School Dis­trict in July as its di­rec­tor of pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment.

“The aca­demic coach po­si­tion is of ma­jor in­ter­est to all of us,” Su­per­in­ten­dent Jim Rollins said Tues­day. “We’ve had a great in­tro­duc­tory year and a change in per­son­nel.”

Smith told the School Board the fi­nal in­ter­view was Mon­day, and Fotenop­u­los was no­ti­fied Tues­day morn­ing.

“He’s go­ing to be a great as­set,” Smith said. “He’s got a lot of back­ground knowl­edge in the AP and what we need to do to push AP for­ward and what are some things we can do in all dif­fer­ent ar­eas of AP.”

Fotenop­u­los will help the dis­trict work to­ward ad­vanc­ing stu­dent per­for­mance by con­nect­ing with chil­dren and their fam­i­lies and help­ing them plan for col­lege, Rollins said.

“We need help to iden­tify those kids early on who re­ally are gifted, who have great abil­i­ties, and then fam­i­lies need sup­port,” Rollins said.

Har-Ber Prin­ci­pal Danny Brack­ett de­scribed Fotenop­u­los as some­one who en­cour­aged and mo­ti­vated stu­dents, he said. Stu­dents call him their his­tory coach.

School Board mem­ber Jeff Williams had an in­ter­est in the suc­cess of high-achiev­ing stu­dents when he ran for the po­si­tion nine years ago, he said. The idea for an aca­demic coach started with a de­sire to have some­one work with sev­enth- and eighth-graders who par­tic­i­pate in the Duke Tal­ent Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram as po­ten­tial Na­tional Merit schol­ars. It has ex­panded to a per­son who could be a re­source in plan­ning for col­lege for Ad­vanced Place­ment stu­dents and other high-achiev­ing stu­dents.

An ex­am­ple would be help­ing a low-in­come stu­dent in the In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate pro­gram at Spring­dale High School grad­u­ate and at­tend Brown Univer­sity, he said. School Board mem­ber Mike Lut­trell got to know Fotenop­u­los as a par­ent be­cause his daugh­ter was in his class. He shared his knowl­edge with stu­dents, mo­ti­vated them and helped them to be cre­ative, he said.

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