U of A Receives Funding to Support Arkansas A+ Schools

Teachers in A+ schools take part in summer training institutes.
Photo by Mark Fonville

Teachers in A+ schools take part in summer training institutes.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Windgate Foundation in Siloam Springs recently awarded the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas a five-year grant of $266,735 per year to support the Arkansas A+ Schools program based in North Little Rock.

The grant will count toward Campaign Arkansas, the university’s $1 billion capital campaign.

Steve Dittmore, assistant dean for outreach in the college, said the funding would help assist the program to expand its work to bring art education to students across Arkansas. Arkansas A+ Schools provides professional development, networking and research data to its member schools. Its focus is arts integration in which some type of art, including music, visual art, drama and dance, is incorporated into subjects such as literacy, math, science and history.

John Brown, executive director of the Windgate Foundation, said the A+ Schools model was first piloted in North Carolina over 20 years ago. At least 85 percent of a school’s teachers must approve of the school’s application. Once a school is accepted, its teachers take part in a five-day training institute in the summer and two on-site professional development sessions provided by the program during the school year. Cost to the schools is based on location and size of the school.

“The merger of Arkansas A+ Schools with the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas will provide even greater strength in professional development for teachers, and great leadership in facilitating deeper learning in Arkansas schools,” Brown said. “We are excited by the vision and interest of Dean Michael Miller which made this transition possible.”

 The Windgate Foundation has been active in supporting arts-based reform for the past 15 years, and it now supports statewide networks in four states, Brown said.

“Schools participate because the program works,” he said. “We appreciate the great work first initiated by Paul Leopoulos and the Thea Foundation in 2009. We are all excited by the new opportunities created by this move to a new home base for sustaining and growing the A+ Schools model in Arkansas.”

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Steve Dittmore, assistant dean for outreach
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-6625, dittmore@uark.edu

Heidi Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, heidisw@uark.edu

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