Update from Fletcher Education Solutions:

The mission of our company, Fletcher Education Solutions, is to help communities, organizations and academic institutions inspire and motivate the people they serve. Graduates of a rural high school, our work in both Crossett and Lee County over the past few months has been nothing short of life-changing.

We’re having a wonderful time learning about the rich history of both Crossett and Lee County and hearing directly from residents what their hopes are for the future of their community. Each time we speak to a member of the community, visit one of the schools or talk to students about their dreams and plans for the future, we’re reminded of just how important this work is to the communities we serve and the state of Arkansas as a whole.

Our work thus far has resulted in solid Leadership Teams made up of individuals who are eager to lead or becoming a member of one of the five committees each community deemed most important to the advancement of education in their community. The committees align with the seven focus areas ForwARd identified as areas of improvement for the state of Arkansas. This summer, each community’s Leadership Team will continue to work towards their goal of submitting a five-year Plan of Action by September 2017.

Here is some feedback from some of the community leaders we’ve met thus far:

  • “I think having ForwARd supporting progress in Lee County is vital to the community’s future. Beginning honest dialogue and creating a partnership is one step to improving education, economic development, a real chance for our kids. Hopefully, we will keep the momentum going and growth will happen.” -Superintendent Willie Murdock, Lee County School District
  • “I enjoy working with the ForwARD Project. I have been working with ForwARd since the Lee County Focus Group started in early 2016 in Lee County. I feel ForwARd’s goal and mission is one that is achievable when everyone is working together. During the process in Lee County, a wide range of community stakeholders were invited and attended the meetings. This gave us all a clear indication of what education in our Rural School can be. I look forward to share in the process of developing the future education of children, not only in Lee County but across the state of Arkansas. I feel that Arkansas has some of the brightest and talented students when given the tools and opportunities to succeed.” – Mattie Allison, Lee County community stakeholder
  • “Nationally we’ve all struggled with how to increase educational attainment and make educational equality an achievable goal for all children. As daunting as this task is, we in rural America often find ourselves in a more perilous predicament, and most agree that more focused approaches should include designing and refining interventions that take into account factors such as culture, resources and a desire to be inclusive in moving all Americans forward. We embark now on solutions for rural Arkansans using the resources ForwARd Arkansas helps us realize, including best practices and access to industry experts.” – Toyce Newton, Phoenix Youth Services, Inc.

To learn more about influencing educational change in rural America, and to hear Tom Vander Ark’s reflections on his visit to Arkansas, click here.