Schools look to future
Begin with end in mind
From teaching the basics — the three Rs, reading, writing and ’rithmatic — to the newest technologies, Pea Ridge Schools have a strong foundation historically as leaders look to the future.
Jerry Nichols, 1956 graduate of Pea Ridge High School, former pastor and vice president of the Pea Ridge Historical Society, was one of the many community leaders attending the second Vision meetings hosted by school superintendent Rick Neal on Thursday, Oct. 12.
“We are looking at the uniqueness of Pea Ridge and where we’ve come from,” Neal said, turning to Nichols asking what was the focus in the school in the 1950s.
“The three Rs,” Nichols said. “That’s the thing we had to worry about back then,” Neal said, “and to this day, we still do. But, we have to worry about a lot more now.”
“We’re growing so fast, society is moving so fast … it’s very important to see where we are right now and what our future is,” Neal said.
“Our board sees the direction we need to be heading,” he said. “We’re looking at kids and moving kids through a system of K-12 all the way through the process.”
A video created by elementary students was shown as illustrative of the education being offered at Pea Ridge.
“They had ownership. They believed in what they were doing and they were able to share it,” Neal said. “That’s what’s impressive about personalized learning. They’re creating their own educational success plan.”
Referring to one of the Seven Habits of Leader in Me, “Beginning with the end in mind,” Neal said that educators must look at the kind of student they want to have at the end, when they graduate from high school, and not just focus on today.
“Students need to graduate
with real world skills in order to be successful in college, career and life!”
“Pea Ridge coming together is a big deal,” Neal continued. “It’s not always common. It is uncommon.”
“We are preparing the students for a future that doesn’t exist,” Neal said, “for technology that is not in place, careers that do not (yet) exist. We must help kids get a feeling of self competency in order to be successful in the future.”
Speaking to the group, educator Dr. Catherine Nichols said: “What would we need to do to touch that vision — funding, facilities, staffing, equipment?”
“This building is an example of a partnership that exists between the school district and the city and is second to none in the United States,” she said noting the City Hall/ School Administration Building.
Visionaries were asked to answer questions — “What is our responsibility to ensure that we do hit that vision, that we do make that happen? Do we realize what our potential role could be? What is our commitment to make that happen?”
School Board member Ryan Heckman said, “We need to play a role in business partnerships, understand industry trends and think bigger than the community.”
“The school district as a whole seems to be what’s driving the community,” Merrill White said. “Facilities are what we’re lacking. In order for the district as a whole to be successful, in order to expand PRMBA (Pea Ridge Manufacturing and Business Academy), you’ve got to have facilities and in order to have facilities, you’ve got to have funding. It all circles around funding.”
“This ties really well together,” said Nichols as she noted the Pea Ridge School Board acted this month to ask for a millage increase in a February election.