News Release: Northside High School Selected for Professional Learning Communities at Work® Project

For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2020

Contact: Christina Williams, Coordinator of Public Information

Northside High School Selected for Professional Learning Communities at Work® Project

Fort Smith, AR, May 1, 2020 – Northside High School has been named a Professional Learning
Communities at Work® Project school for the 2020-2021 school year by the Arkansas
Department of Education and Solution Tree, a national provider of education training.

"We are so excited to be a part of this project. We believe that with the help of Solution Tree
associates and other resources that Northside will continue to grow academically. The
possibilities are endless!” said Keri Rathbun, Northside High School Principal.

Northside, along with eight schools and two districts, join 29 other Arkansas schools and four
districts previously chosen through an application and evaluation process to participate in the
project. Northside will receive up to 50 days of training, coaching, and support to build and
sustain a strong culture of collaboration that will enhance student learning. The school will
create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum,
formative assessments, and proven instructional strategies. During the second year, the school
will deepen its understanding and focus on implementing multi-tiered systems of support,
followed by strengthening their systems and sustaining the process in year three. Act 427 of
2017, which amended Arkansas Code Ann. § 6-20-2305(b)(5), provides funding for the project.

"I am always excited when we take a proven best practice model, implement it here in
Arkansas, and see continued success,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The PLC model is one of
those examples. It has transformed the day-to-day operations and culture at schools around
the state, leading to improved outcomes with student learning. Congratulations to this new
cohort of schools selected to join the PLC family, and congratulations to the four schools from
the first cohort that were selected as model schools for the state.”

“Not only is the PLC at Work model one of the most highly-recognized best practices in the
country, it is backed by numerous years of research. Since launching the PLC initiative in
Arkansas, we have seen teachers across multiple subject areas come together to collaborate,
lead by example, and make needed changes that have transformed student learning at their
schools. The work is hard, but the payoffs have been huge. Congratulations to the new cohort
and to the four schools recently named model schools. You serve as leading examples for all
schools in the state,” said Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key.

Both Ballman Elementary School and Spradling Elementary School participated in the first
cohort and were recently named Professional Learning Communities Model Schools for
excellence in carrying out the PLC at Work program of using teacher collaboration.
Northside High School was also recently named a Model PLC school. It is the only high school in
Arkansas that is a Model PLC school.

In order to be named a model school, a school must demonstrate a commitment to PLC
concepts; implement those concepts for at least three years; present clear evidence of
improved student learning; explain the culture, practices, and structures of the school or
district and be considered for the recognition; and update school or district information on the
site each year to show continued progress in meeting the PLC at Work criteria.

For more information, please read the Arkansas Department of Education Press Release.

About Fort Smith Public Schools
From unmanned aerial systems programming to unforgettable kindergarten trips to the farm,
Fort Smith Public Schools provides incredible opportunities and strong instruction for each of
the almost 15,000 students in its 19 neighborhood elementary schools, four junior high schools,
two senior high schools, one alternative learning center and one adult education center. With
nationally recognized schools, students, educators and organizations, Fort Smith Public Schools
are always the best choice. For information, visit