Officials from Florence Mattison Elementary in Conway joined 10 other schools from across the state selected by the Arkansas Department of Education for the 2019 RISE (Reading Initiative for Student Excellence) Arkansas School Award during a recent awards ceremony at the ADE Summit in Hot Springs.

The campuses were chosen due to their increased efforts to help students with reading instruction, establish community partnerships and promote a culture of reading, according to a news release from the state agency.

RISE was launched by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and ADE in January 2017 and since, school, parent and community partnerships have not only strengthened but the new instruction has been implemented statewide bringing the count to 320 educators who have become academy trainers and coaches, who, in turn, have trained more than 6,000 kindergarten to sixth-grade teachers in RISE practices.

“I am extremely proud of these 10 schools for setting the example of reading excellence and making a profound difference in the lives of their students,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in the release. “Not only have they increased and improved reading instruction for all students, they have demonstrated their commitment to their communities by building partnerships with parents and businesses. I commend these exceptional educators, students, and administrators for their hard work and dedication to reading.”

Florence Mattison principal Gary Logan told the Log Cabin Democrat the award was possible only due to the dedication of the entire school family, from the central office and administration to teachers and others in the building.

The elementary’s theme this year — “We don’t have individual clusters of kids, but they are all ours” — has supported a team approach and culture that has allowed Florence Mattison to flourish, the principal said.

“We had a dedicated team of kindergarten teachers who helped lead the crusade,” Logan said. “Our instructional interventionists and facilitator provided consistent support and feedback to our teachers to help them make the changes that were needed to ensure our students were making progress.”

He said they have a “we” mindset at the school; to partner together to make a difference in the lives of the children that serve.

“I cannot be prouder of this year’s recipients of the RISE Arkansas School Award,” ADE Commissioner Johnny Key said. “When our team visited each of the recipients, they came away inspired and impressed by each school’s commitment to reading. Not only are their students benefiting from the improved instruction and collaboration, their communities are as well. Together we are leading the nation in student-focused education.”

ADE accepted nominations for the award from RISE trainers who completed a 14-day training on the knowledge and skills of the science of reading, who then trained other educators on the reading instructional practices.

A team from the education departed visited each of the nominated schools and selected 10 schools that demonstrated the following: “a school-wide implementation of science of reading practices; administrative support for improved reading instruction; strengthened community partnerships; projects that promote a culture of reading; and serve as models of instructional best practices for other teachers.”

Each winner received a trophy and recognition and will serve on a panel discussion at the summit to share implementation strategies and lessons learned with other educators. 

The 2019 Outstanding RISE Arkansas School Award recipients:

• Angie Grant Elementary School in the Benton School District.

• Hermitage Elementary School in the Hermitage School District.

• Florence Mattison Elementary School in the Conway School District.

• Green Forest Elementary School in the Green Forest School District.

• Lavaca Elementary School in the Lavaca School District.

• Lincoln Elementary School in the Lincoln School District.

• Malvern Elementary School in the Malvern School District.

• Sheridan Elementary School in the Sheridan School District.

• Taylor Elementary School in the Emerson-Taylor-Bradley School District.

• Willowbrook Elementary School in the Bentonville School District.

To learn more about the initiative, visit www.risearkansas.org.