June 24, 2013
Arkansas Tech University has selected an inaugural cohort of 20 Walton Leader Scholars for its LEAD 21 program.
The inaugural class of Walton Leader Scholars (listed with the educational entity at which they serve) includes:
*Mary Beth Cox, North Little Rock High School
*Jonathan Crossley, Palestine-Wheatley High School
*Amanda Crowder, Lighthouse Academies of Arkansas, Jacksonville
*Tolu Daramola, KIPP Delta Public Schools, Helena
*Tamara Davis, Maumelle High School
*Suzette Decesaro, Adkins Pre-K, Pulaski County Special School District
*Pamela Freeman, Dupree Elementary, Pulaski County Special School District
*Chip Greenwell, El Dorado New Tech High School
*Catherine Hayes, North Little Rock High School
*Caroline Lampinen, Dumas School District
*Jaclyn Markovich, Lee County High School
*Hannah McCollester, Teach For America, Arkansas region
*Valencia Rochelle, Taylor Elementary, Pulaski County Special School District
*Kara Smith, Teach for America, Arkansas region
*Courtney Stone, Lighthouse Academies of Arkansas, Jacksonville
*Kimberly Weaver, Cross County High School
*Ethan Weeks, Cross County High School
*Emily Wells, Camden Fairview High School
*Norman Whitfield, Lighthouse Academies of Arkansas, Jacksonville
*Katelyn Wilhelmi, Southeast Middle School, Pine Bluff School District
The inaugural cohort began its studies with a two-day retreat at the Lake Point Conference Center in Russellville May 31-June 1. The second cohort will begin the program in summer 2014.
November 18, 2013
Jonathan Crossley, a student in the Arkansas Tech University Graduate College, was named 2014 Arkansas Teacher of the Year by Gov. Mike Beebe during a surprise ceremony on Monday, Nov. 18.
Crossley teaches 11th and 12th grade English and oral communication at Palestine-Wheatley High School in eastern Arkansas. He also serves the school district as the drama director and literary coach.
By state law, the Arkansas Teacher of the Year is eligible to take a year of paid administrative leave to serve in an advisory position as a non-voting member to the Arkansas State Board of Education and for professional development purposes.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Crossley enrolled in the Master of Education degree in educational leadership program at Arkansas Tech in summer 2013 as part of the inaugural LEAD 21 cohort.
LEAD 21 is an initiative by the Arkansas Tech Center for Leadership and Learning that will make the Arkansas Tech Master of Education degree in educational leadership available to selected teachers in Pulaski County and the Delta region of Arkansas through a blended format of online course offerings and seminars.
Made possible through a $974,157 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, LEAD 21 will serve two cohorts of 20 Master of Education in educational leadership students each over the next four years.
July 11, 2013
Arkansas Tech University graduate student Valencia Rochelle knows from experience that there are both challenges and benefits associated with teaching fourth graders.
"They are at that age when they are coming into their own a little bit," said Rochelle,
fourth grade teacher at Taylor Elementary in the Pulaski County Special School District.
"They are becoming more independent, but they still need nurturing. It can be difficult
to gauge where they are on any given day. They are just beginning to find themselves.
"On the other hand, they still have their innocence at that age," continued Rochelle. "They are not jaded, and the social norms from outside the classroom are not influencing them as much as older students."
Rochelle (photographed) is among a cohort of 20 Walton Leader Scholars who recently began their first year of study in the Master of Education degree program in educational leadership at Arkansas Tech.
By applying for and gaining admission to the newly-created LEAD 21 program in the Arkansas Tech Center for Leadership and Learning, Walton Leader Scholars receive free tuition as they pursue their master's degree through a blended format of online courses and seminars.
Educators in Pulaski County and the Delta region of eastern Arkansas are eligible to apply to become Walton Leader Scholars. A second cohort of 20 educators will be selected for the program in summer 2014.
LEAD 21 is made possible through a $974,157 grant to Arkansas Tech from the Walton Family Foundation.
Participants in the program sign an agreement that they will remain in Arkansas as an educator for a minimum of two years after the completion of their master's degree.
That condition did not faze Rochelle.
"I had no hesitation," said Rochelle. "Texas is home for me, but I love central Arkansas. As long as I feel like I am making a difference for my students, the two-year commitment will not be adverse for me."
The Walton Leader Scholars gathered for their first seminar in Russellville May 31-June 1. There, they had an opportunity to learn from Dr. Mary Gunter, dean of the Arkansas Tech Graduate College and professor of educational leadership.
"Dr. Gunter is real," said Rochelle. "When you read the mission statement on the Arkansas Tech Center for Leadership and Learning web site and then you meet Dr. Gunter, you see that those words are true to her heart."
Rochelle was recommended for the LEAD 21 program by her school principal, Jackie Smith.
"When I looked further, the program seemed interesting," said Rochelle. "I thought it was refreshing that it aligned closely with my goals for educational leadership. It is focused on building leadership capacity in others. The key phrase is open door policy. You must be able to distribute leadership and be confident in teachers to make decisions on their own while maintaining open channels for feedback."
Among Rochelle's career goals are to become a building level administrator. If and when that opportunity arises, she says that she will focus on building a self-sufficient staff and becoming the best principal she can be.