Schools look to fu­ture

Be­gin with end in mind

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com

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.

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