Seven Region 8 Schools Make State's Top Ten List

September 20, 2004 --Posted 6:30 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- According to the State's Education Department, 7 of Arkansas' Top 10 public schools are right here in Region 8.

Inside Sherry Mason's algebra class at Valley View Junior High, students are learning new equations and retaining infinite wisdom.

"Great parents, great students, it's just a great school district overall," said Mason.

It's wisdom that's made them one of the top schools in the state. All public schools in Arkansas have been judged based on the highest percent of students proficient on all assessments for the districts.

"We have caring parents, we have parents that expect their children to achieve," said Superintendent Radius Baker. "I think the teachers are primarily responsible."

"We actually review on a daily basis all the benchmark strands," said Mason. "We have created notebooks that have review questions daily, the students walk in get their review sheets and we do that about the first 10 minutes of class."

"You can't be an excellent teacher getting to school at 8 o'clock and going home at 3:30, there's no way you can do that," said Baker.

"I want them when they leave my class to love math a little more than when they entered at the beginning of the year," said Mason.

The Weiner school district is another Region 8 school community on the state's Top 10 list. This school district has had a roller coaster year. At one point they were in jeopardy of consolidating.

"We were just really excited to be chosen," said Superintendent Betty McGruder. "Being the smallest school on the list we felt like the David among the Goliath."

With 359 students, Weiner just made the cut at the last legislative session and missed consolidation.

"What we have been finally recognized for was my podium for what I took to the Capitol everyday during the last legislative session is that schools should be judged and held accountable according to performance." said McGruder.

"They do anything they have to to get the message across; spend hours after school if they have to," said Senior L.J. Bryant.

"The student body knows all the faculty members, all the faculty members know all the parents and it all works hand and hand," said McGruder.

The other 5 outstanding school districts in Region 8 are: Batesville, Melbourne, Mountain View, Salem, and Searcy.

On October 5th, Governor Huckabee will be announcing each of these school district's ranking.