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Clinton team report offers insights

By Submitted, 04/20/18 9:41 AM

A graduate student research team from the University of Arkansas William Jefferson Clinton School of Public Service presented its report regarding the implementation of the public service curriculum at the Hope Academy of Public Service here Tuesday night. Team members Clay Turner, Joseph Stepina, Marina Giannirakis and Beth Quarles followed the curriculum development work of the first Clinton School team from last year. – Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools


HOPE – The report and recommendations from a team of four graduate students from the University of Arkansas William Jefferson Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock on implementation of the public service curriculum at the Hope Academy of Public Service concluded a year of research and campus-level interaction that produced a number of insights for the HAPS and Hope Public Schools administrations.
The report, presented Tuesday night at Hempstead Hall, concluded the work of the second team from the Clinton School in a partnership which has been ongoing since the opening of the HAPS campus.
Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III said Tuesday night that the results of the combined work of the Clinton School graduate teams demonstrates exactly the circumstances in the development of the Clinton program itself.
Rutherford said that for the first two years of its operation, the Clinton School relied upon faculty expertise in implementation of a public service curriculum, but in the third year, it brought in a “public service specialist” to refine the program.
“It was designed to work in all aspects of public service,” he said.
That, Rutherford said, was a significant insight for the continued development of HAPS.
While research by the four-member graduate student team showed both students and teachers were satisfied with the general model at HAPS, there was still a lack of understanding as to the definitive application of “public service” as opposed to “community service” within the model.
The team made four key recommendations:
–Vertical alignment of the curriculum through professional development this summer.
–Creation of a “public service specialist” position as liaison with community partners and parents and “point person” for on-campus program development.
–Creation of a “student public service committee” with representatives from each grade level to work with the PSS.
–Broaden the scope of partnerships to provide more expertise and project opportunity.
“We can’t wait to see what HAPS looks like in five, or ten years from now,” team leader Clay Turner, of Leachville, Ar., said.
He and team member Joseph Stepina, of Coppell, Texas, noted that HAPS has already begun to produce a foundation for graduates of Hope High School to want to return to Hope after college.
Successes within the HAPS model that can be built upon include broadening student horizons; greater student engagement in their future; and flexibility in collaborative and cross-curricular instruction for teachers.
Challenges within the model have been time constraints in an eight period day; finding the right grade-level appropriate content for the public service curriculum; and a lack of opportunity connections for more appropriate public service projects.
A key tool which the team developed is a teacher resource manual, which addresses some needs relative to the curriculum; provides biographical resources from Hope, Arkansas, and beyond for reference and expertise in public service; provides suggestions for taking public service into particular career paths; and, provides an index of community partnerships already in place.
“The challenge this year was to take the grade level curriculum that was developed last year and execute it; and, then, hand it off to our teachers,” HAPS Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke said.
Duke said the upshot of the two-year partnership with the Clinton School has been remarkable.
“They have totally changed the perspectives of our students about graduate students, because they spent so much time on our campus,” she said.
During the question and answer session that followed the formal presentation, Rutherford broached a question to the graduate team about the future.
“Would you consider recommending taking the HAPS model to grades 10 through 12?” Rutherford asked.
Stepina said that question had occurred to the team members, but they believed it to presently be “beyond the scope” of their mandate; and, team member Beth Quarles, of Nashville, Tenn., a former classroom teacher, said some of the team’s data suggests the possibility. All four students agreed that they believed it can be done.
University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana Chancellor Chris Thomason asked how the apparent academic engagement of the students in the HAPS model might be measured toward college success.
Turner said that might be produced through the development and evaluation of “targeted goals;” while team member Marina Giannirakis, of Pittsburgh, Pa., said the development of a “baseline” for that idea would be critical.
Duke said a key aspect of the idea lay in the mutual obligation to responsibilities for both parent and student at HAPS.
“There is a lack of distraction,” she said.
HPS Superintendent Bobby Hart said that, while replicating the HAPS model itself locally is not under consideration, core aspects of the idea are being developed into a grades 10-12 proposal for a collegiate and professions academy.
Rutherford agreed that the possibilities were exciting because of two key components: the creation of an environment of mutual respect and the development of collaborative unity.
“You’re going to see students of different races, genders, economic circumstances come together,” he said. “It really is a unifier.”
Marina Giannirakis, of Pittsburgh, Pa., is a graduate of John Carroll University with a degree in sociology and criminology and a minor in entrepreneurship. Giannirakis has interned at Legal Aid of Arkansas and the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration. She has volunteered in juvenile detention center work in Cleveland, Ohio, and her application interests include immigrant/refugee rights, criminal justice reform, and women’s rights.
Beth Quarles hails from Nasvhille, Tenn., and is a graduate of Lipscomb University with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in English language learner teaching and instructional leadership. She has taught English and American Culture at Three Gorges University in Yinchang, China, and has experience as a community organizer in northeast Arkansas. She plans on applying her master’s studies in education, women’s issues and social justice.
Joseph Stepina, of Coppell, Texas, is a graduate of Hendrix College in Conway with a degree in politics, and he is a concurrent juris doctor student at UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Stepina has served as a deputy court clerk in Faulkner County, and he intends to apply his studies in criminal justice reform, education and social justice.
Clay Turner, of Leachville, Ar., is a graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro with a degree in political science and a minor in Spanish. Turner has served internships in the U. S. Congress and the office of the Arkansas Lieutenant Governor. He has worked to develop fine arts awareness in northeast Arkansas through the Foundation of Arts in Jonesboro; and, he intends to apply his studies in arts policy and human rights.