Equity and excellence: District helps students reach potential

Students in lab at Robinson Middle School: PCSSD strives to include innovative methods of education in every classroom.

by Jessica Duff

Serving 25 schools and spanning more than 800 square miles, the Pulaski County Special School District is one of the largest school districts in the state of Arkansas. Every student has a purpose in life and the district strives to help each student discover their full potential. The Pulaski County Special School District is where purpose comes alive and every day faculty and staff are ensuring equity and excellence for every student.

Preparing students for life

The Pulaski County Special School District works diligently with every child to ensure he or she is prepared for life beyond the classroom. PCSSD has nearly 1,000 certified teachers including more than 75 nationally board-certified teachers who help every student learn in a comfortable, safe environment.

Every student possesses the potential to become a great leader. Every school within the Pulaski County Special School District executes the promise to guide each student on a path of success.

Whether it’s finding his or her niche in the classroom, on the court, in choir or any other program offered, PCSSD supports students in the pursuit of their passion.

Strengthening public schools

In order to become one cohesive educational institution for future leaders, it is necessary to strengthen the public school system in Central Arkansas. The Pulaski County Special District employs strong teachers and rigorous curriculum to improve the learning environment at every school, cultivating a sense of equity and excellence.

By strengthening public schools, communities are impacted as well. A strong community centers around a sense of equity, inclusion and support that stems from each school within the Pulaski County Special School District.

Driving innovation in the classroom

The Pulaski County Special School District understands the future of education. Every school of PCSSD strongly supports the drive for innovation. Whether it’s WiFi on school buses or virtual classrooms, PCSSD is giving students access to the technologies that are shaping the world.

Why should parents choose PCSSD? The district prides itself on offering a combination of academic opportunities, extracurricular activities and special programs not found anywhere else. PCSSD implemented two initiatives districtwide for the 2019-2020 school year – AVID and PBIS.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a college and ca­reer readiness system centered on engaging professional learn­ing. It shows educators how to increase student engagement, promote classroom col­laboration and activate deeper levels of learning in their classrooms with practical, immediately useful tools and instructional strategies.

“I love seeing the partnerships. These are partnerships among students, classrooms and grade levels,” said Chenal Elementary Principal Yolanda Harris. “It’s not just here [at Chenal], it’s a partnership with other schools, feeder patterns as well as families, and communities.”

Meanwhile, PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) changes the focus from punishment to prevention to improve school safety and promote positive behavior with the understanding that kids can only meet behavior expectations if they know what the expectations are. Schools will still use discipline, but the punishment isn’t the focus – instead the focus is on teaching expectations and preventing problems.

“PBIS is what good teachers have been doing for a long time. It gives students the opportunity to be successful. Rather than telling them what they can’t do, they are given procedures for what they can do. It encourages creativity, within the constraints of safety and security,” said Robinson Middle School teacher Deborah Grimmett.

PCSSD schools offer expansive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs like EAST that give students an advantage in today’s economy. For those students with a more artistic drive, the Fine Arts department includes a wide variety of both Visual Art and Performing Art classes, providing students the opportunity to be in a visual art and music class every year in their educational career at PCSSD.

Additionally, more than a dozen sports offered at all of the district’s schools compete at the highest levels. In the past five years, several PCSSD schools have won championships in cross country, basketball, track and baseball.

Editor’s note – Jessica Duff is the executive director of communications for the Pulaski County Special School District.