Ashdown High School was recently notified that they have been designated a School of Innovation.  The designation is based upon AHS reaching goals set by the Department of Education and by providing evidence that they had reached these goals from data and a site visit last February.

Along with the application process, AHS created a student advisory board which is still in place.
According to AHS Principal Kay York speaking to her staff and community said, "You have all been a part of this process and I value your advice, support, and guidance.  We at Ashdown High will never be ‘finished' as we know we can not stand still and stop challenging and moving our students forward.  Preparing our young people for college, and career is ever-changing and I truthfully do not think we would have been able to make it through this year's challenges had we not have been already in a mindset of innovation." 
AHS must show substantial progress toward goals that were outlined in their SOI Application “with the purpose of transforming and improving teaching and learning within two years of approval of the application.”  Their first goal is to reduce the Achievement Gap, one evidence of this goal was that AHS was recognized by the Office for Education Policy (OEP) at the University of Arkansas where students demonstrated high growth on the ACT ASPIRE.
Goals 2, 3, 4 are to increase curriculum options and expand college/career readiness and motivate students to engage in learning. AHS has met and meeting these goals by:
  • Added a career coach to support students in career and college planning
  • Weekly Advisory Class
  • Added a teacher cadet class for students wanting to go into the teaching profession
  • Certifying student tutors through the National Tutor Association - student tutors are available during flex time
  • Increased concurrent credit classes-students can graduate with 24+ college hours and  increased opportunities for students to attend local colleges
  • Increasing career certification classes (CNA and Pharmacy Tech added) and partnering with Lockesburg Industrial Maintenance Institute
  • Implemented Rapsodo software to develop real-life analytical data to prepare for challenge careers in data analysis (real-world application with AHS Baseball Team)

Goal 5 was to transform the culture and climate.  AHS has been working towards that goal by surveying the community, parents, and students on the characteristics of Ashdown graduates and used the results to inform learning on campus.  AHS has formed strong community partnerships with those who are vested in the success of students.  Flexible scheduling has been created to allow time for mentoring and academic support for all students.  Student interest and voice interest are evident in the creation of  TV Production, Coffee Shop, E-Sports, student-led tutoring, and advisory board.  Students at AHS are also able to enjoy a revamped “commons area” which centers around flexible seating, healthy snacks, and a relaxed atmosphere for learning.

Ashdown Public School Superintendent Casey Nichols said,  "Mrs. York and her staff at Ashdown High School have been forward-thinking in their desire to become a School of Innovation and they have worked extremely hard to remove any barriers that students may have to learn and become ready for their future success, whether that be college or to be career-ready.  We also appreciate our parents and community members who were a part of the process."

LOOK: The Inauguration in Photos

More From Kicker 102.5