Entry Category: Education - Starting with S

Saline County Library

The Saline County Library, owned and operated by the county, is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in central Arkansas. There are two branches: the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library in Benton (Saline County) and the Mabel Boswell Memorial Library in Bryant (Saline County). The Saline County Library seeks to “serve the citizens of Saline County by providing materials, technology, and programs that educate, connect, and entertain.” The library is governed by the Saline County Library Board, whose members are appointed by the county judge. The library board consists of five members and one who serves as liaison between the board and the quorum court. The library is funded primarily by county-wide sales taxes and millage. The Benton Junior …

Salvest, John Joseph

John Joseph Salvest has gained national acclaim through his site-specific installations, object-based and performance art, and teaching. Salvest’s art is noted for exploring issues of time and mortality, the paradoxes of life, and the true and proverbial in literature. His success is evident through awards and solo exhibitions across the nation and a career that has spanned decades. Born on February 13, 1955, John Salvest was the oldest of three children born to John and Jeanne Salvest. He grew up in Kearny, New Jersey, and attended Regis High School in New York City, New York. He received a BA in English from Duke University in North Carolina in 1977, an MA in English from the University of Iowa in 1979, …

Samuel, Irene Gaston

Irene Gaston Samuel is best known for her work with the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) that arose in the fall of 1958 during the Little Rock desegregation crisis. Samuel served as the organization’s executive secretary until it disbanded in 1963. Later in her life, she worked as an administrative assistant for Governor (and later U.S. Senator) Dale Bumpers until she retired in 1981. Irene Gaston was born on March 21, 1915, in Van Buren (Crawford County) to Martin Luther and Grace Whitley Gaston. She grew up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and graduated in 1931 from Little Rock Senior High School (now Central High School). After working for the state Department of Labor and in the …

Sawyer, Sophia

Sophia Sawyer, an educator whose calling was to teach the Cherokee, founded the Fayetteville Female Seminary in 1839. This tireless educator was associated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church. Sophia Sawyer was born May 4 or 5, 1792, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Little is known of her parents, save for the fact that they were extremely poor farmers who eventually bought a farm in New Hampshire. She never married. Dr. Seth Payson, a Congregational clergyman from Rindge, New Hampshire, took Sawyer into his home as a housemaid after her parents died and sent her to school. Sawyer gained teaching experience in the Payson household, teaching basic education during the summer at Rindge but needed …

School Consolidation

When relating to public education, the term “consolidation” refers to the combining of schools, districts, or administrative units in rural communities as a way to save costs and broaden educational opportunities. This highly contentious education policy has been implemented since the nineteenth century across the country in states such as New York, Kansas, Vermont, and Wyoming. In Arkansas, rural schools and districts have faced consolidation policies throughout most of the history of public education in the state. The most recent wave of school consolidation occurred as part of Governor Mike Huckabee’s response to the Arkansas Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Lake View School District vs. Huckabee, which stated that the state’s school funding system was unconstitutional. Early efforts to consolidate …

Sequoyah National Research Center

The Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) seeks to acquire and preserve the writings and ideas of Native North Americans by collecting the written word, art, and other forms of expression by Native Americans and to create a research atmosphere that invites indigenous peoples to make the center the archival home for their creative work. The mission is fulfilled by serving tribal communities, promoting scholarly research both on the UALR campus and worldwide, creating educational programs, providing access to the center’s collections, and collaborating with like–minded institutions and organizations across the United States. What is now the Sequoyah National Research Center began in 1983 after two tenured faculty members from the English Department …

Sheehan, James Murray

James Murray Sheehan served as the first journalism instructor and first publicity director at University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), was editor of the Arkansas Traveler, and published two well-received novels, Half-Gods and Eden. Half-Gods, published in 1927, offered a scathing satire of Fayetteville and the university. Murray Sheehan was born to David Este Sheehan and Alfarata Winder Sheehan on December 15, 1887, in Hamilton, Ohio. Sheehan earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s from Harvard University. Before coming to the University of Arkansas, he served as a sergeant major of artillery in the Sixth Division during World War I, worked as a newspaper reporter, and taught at the University …

Shepperson, Carrie Lena Fambro Still

Carrie Lena Fambro Still Shepperson was an African-American teacher and education advocate in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the mother of composer and musician William Grant Still Jr. Carrie Fambro was born in 1872, near Milledgeville Georgia to Anne Fambro, a freedwoman. Little is known about her family. Her exact birth date, father’s name, and number of siblings are unknown. Encouraged by her mother to pursue her education, she graduated from Atlanta University in 1886. In 1893, while teaching at Alabama State Agricultural and Mechanical College, she met William Grant Still, a colleague who taught bookkeeping, instrumental music, and vocal music. Still was an 1892 graduate of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College at Lorman, Mississippi. The couple married and settled …

Shorter College

aka: Bethel Institute
Shorter College in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a two-year institution of higher learning with a liberal arts curriculum that has expanded to include para-professional programs. Founded as Bethel Institute in 1886 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) to educate former slaves and to train teachers, the college occupies three and a half blocks at 600 Locust Street, east of Interstate 30. A thirty-three-member board of trustees, chaired by the bishop of the AME’s Twelfth Episcopal District in Arkansas and Oklahoma, oversees the school. Classes were first held in the basement of Bethel AME Church at 9th and Broadway in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 15, 1886. Rising enrollment led to acquisition in 1888 of a two-story frame building …

Sloan-Hendrix Academy

In 1891, the board of trustees of Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) recommended, in part to help provide for an educated clergy, a plan to build affiliated academies. The recommendation was adopted unanimously, and five academies were organized, the second being Sloan-Hendrix Academy in Imboden (Lawrence County). Imboden was selected due to the support of the local citizens and the influence of businessman W. C. Sloan, reportedly the wealthiest man in the county. The community provided land for the campus and money for buildings and equipment. The school was established in 1899 and set to open a campus located southeast of town. The buildings were not completed on time, however, and the classes of the first session were held …

Smith, Eugene Wilson

Eugene W. Smith became a professor and administrator at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), and his work was instrumental in gaining the institution university status. He was appointed president of ASU in 1984 and oversaw major expansions of the university’s physical plant, double-digit growth in enrollment, and the establishment of ASU’s first doctoral program. A native of Forrest City (St. Francis County), Eugene Wilson Smith was born on June 10, 1930, to Milton Samuel Smith II and Frank Leslie Wilson Smith; he had two siblings. His father and mother were longtime educators, serving as school superintendent and classroom teacher, respectively, in the Forrest City school system. Smith enjoyed fishing and quail hunting with his father and developed …

Smith, Norman Eugene

Norman Eugene Smith was a classically trained pianist and musicologist from Benton (Saline County). He spent most of his career as a professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, specializing in the study of early polyphonic (multiple melody) music and classical piano. His scholarly works focused on musical theory, particularly in music from the twelfth century. Norman Eugene Smith was born on November 4, 1931, the second son of Fred C. Smith and Ocie Clara Bryant Smith in Benton. As a young man, he began playing the piano. His teacher, Lorene Carson Houston, composed the Benton High School alma mater. Smith quickly became her protégé. As a member of Houston’s Junior Music Club at Benton Junior High, …

Smith, Stephen Austin

Stephen Smith is a professor, author, and politician. He taught communication at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1982 to 2015, after which he was named Professor Emeritus of Communication. He also served two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives, from 1971 to 1974. Stephen Austin Smith was born on May 15, 1949, in Fayetteville to Austin Clell Smith, who was a country doctor, and Margaret Lucille King, a homemaker and business owner. His family had a long tradition of public service. Charlie King, his great-grandfather, served three terms as Madison County judge, and his grandfather, Albert King, served three terms as Madison County treasurer, while his father and his younger sister, Nancy, were members …

Smith, Willis S.

Dr. Willis S. Smith was a regionally significant teacher, sheriff, farmer, doctor, and writer in early southwestern Arkansas. Willis Smith was born on August 10, 1810, in Todd County, Kentucky, a frontier community. He was the fifth of twelve children of Millington Smith and Barbara Barton Smith. He was the grandson and namesake of Revolutionary War soldier Willis S. Smith, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Smith had little opportunity for an education, and he could barely read or write even at twenty years of age. He left his home in Johnson County, Illinois, for Rock Springs Theological Seminary in Rock Springs, Illinois, where he received sufficient education to become a teacher at the school himself. One …

Smithville Public School Building

The Smithville Public School Building, located on Highway 117 in Smithville (Lawrence County), is a single-story, T-shaped educational structure built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era public relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 14, 1993. The first school in Smithville, then the county seat of Lawrence County, was a one-room log building built before the Civil War at the southwest corner of the Smithville Cemetery. School teacher Jasper N. Hillhouse later built a one-room building in 1872 on land that was donated by W. C. Sloan. As Smithville thrived in the late nineteenth century, two rooms were added to accommodate the growing student population. Smithville’s fortunes waned in …

Soulesbury Institute

aka: Soulesbury College
The Arkansas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized in 1836 and held its first meeting in Batesville (Independence County) that fall. The Methodist Church had a longstanding interest in education, and by 1860 it was sponsoring Ouachita Conference Female College in Tulip (Dallas County), Wallace Institute in Van Buren (Crawford County), Arkadelphia Female College in Arkadelphia (Clark County), the Washington Male and Female Seminary in Washington (Hempstead County), the Elm Springs Academy at Elm Springs (Hempstead County), and the Soulesbury Institute in Batesville. The Soulesbury Institute was established in 1849, and classes began in January 1850. The name Soulesbury was chosen to honor Bishop Joshua Soule, a leader in organizing the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Francis …

South Arkansas Community College (SouthArk)

South Arkansas Community College, commonly referred to as SouthArk, is a comprehensive two-year public college based in El Dorado (Union County). The college offers an extensive program of transfer credit courses, allied health degrees, associate’s degree and technical certificate programs, computer technology programs, skilled trades courses, GED courses, and non-credit continuing education programs for the general public. 1,715 students are enrolled as of September 2014. The college opened in 1992 when Governor Bill Clinton signed legislation merging the El Dorado branch of Southern Arkansas University (SAU) and Oil Belt Technical College into one college: South Arkansas Community College. Oil Belt had opened as Oil Belt Vocational-Technical School in 1967 just east of El Dorado, and it now serves as the East …

South Elementary School (Wynne)

South Elementary School, located at 711 East Union Avenue in Wynne (Cross County), is a single-story, brick-veneered four-room schoolhouse constructed in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era public relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 24, 2006. In the early part of the twentieth century, white children in Wynne’s segregated school system were attending classes in a 1906 building; in 1928, an elementary school and gymnasium were erected when President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal offered an opportunity for funds for a new school. The school district successfully applied for financing from the WPA to build a new school in the fall of 1938. The Wynne Daily Star-Progress reported in …

Southall, James Henry

James Henry Southall was a founding member of the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University, the precursor to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Southall was born on November 5, 1841, in Smithville, Virginia, the son and grandson of distinguished Virginia physicians. After the completion of his education and the interruptions of life caused by the Civil War, Southall moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) at a time when the local medical community was beginning to consider forming a medical school in the state. As with many physicians of his era, Southall had begun his medical education by reading medicine under the tutelage of a professional, Dr. Robert Tunstall of Norfolk, Virginia. He attended medical school at the …

Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK)

The mission of Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK College) in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is to provide comprehensive community college education and services, with an emphasis on technical education and workforce development, for the citizens of Jefferson, Cleveland, Desha, Drew, Grant, and Lincoln counties. The predecessor of Southeast Arkansas College was Arkansas Vocational-Technical School, which began offering postsecondary vocational-technical programs on September 21, 1959. Act 328 of 1957 set the stage for the establishment of the first vocational-technical school in Arkansas to meet the needs of industry and thus provide jobs and raise the standard of living for Arkansas citizens. The school’s first director was Leon Coker, who headed it from 1958 to 1974. The school’s name was later changed to …

Southern Arkansas University (SAU)

Southern Arkansas University (SAU) is a comprehensive regional public university located in Magnolia (Columbia County). For over a century, the school has provided increasing levels of educational opportunity in southwest Arkansas. Third District Agricultural School The school was established on April 1, 1909, when Governor George W. Donaghey signed Act 100 creating the Third District Agricultural School (TDAS) and three sister institutions at Jonesboro (Craighead County), Monticello (Drew County), and Russellville (Pope County). The Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union had campaigned vigorously in Arkansas and other states for these vocational agricultural high schools, an educational reform of the Progressive Era. Communities bid money and land in efforts to become sites for the Arkansas schools. Small farmers’ contributions won TDAS for Columbia …

Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech)

Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) is a comprehensive two-year technical college located in Calhoun County, though its official address is in Camden (Ouachita County). The college was created by the Arkansas General Assembly as a technical trainer for the Highland Industrial Park, where the college is based. Today, SAU Tech provides technical training as well as transfer degrees as one of Arkansas’s two-year colleges. SAU Tech was founded as Southwest Technical Institute by Act 534 of the Arkansas General Assembly on April 5, 1967. The purpose of the institute was to provide a technically trained workforce for the Highland Industrial Park. Senator John L. McClellan approached the Brown Engineering Corporation, which had recently purchased the Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot—a …

Southland College

Southland College emerged out of a Civil War–era mission by Indiana Quakers who came to Helena (Phillips County) in 1864 to care for lost and abandoned black children. Its founders, Alida and Calvin Clark, were abolitionist members of the Religious Society of Friends who arrived in Arkansas to render temporary relief to displaced orphans. They stayed for the remainder of their working lives, establishing the school that became the first institution of higher education for African Americans west of the Mississippi River. The school survived six decades of economic adversity and social strife. After operating an orphanage and school in Helena for two years, in 1866, the Clarks, with the vital assistance of the officers and men of the Fifty-sixth …

Springdale College

Civic leaders in Springdale (Washington County) established the Springdale College Company on June 22, 1895, by filing articles of incorporation in Washington County. Forty-eight people committed to purchase two shares each, at $25.00 per share, to create the initial capital for the venture. In November 1895, the corporation purchased a building and land from the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Springdale to provide a college facility. The building had previously housed a common school for six grades, operated initially by the Baptists from 1871 and from 1885 by the Lutherans. After organizational delays, October 4, 1897, was finally set for the opening of the college. However, the educator selected to lead the college—Professor Charles Parsons of Webster, South Dakota—failed to …

Springfield Male and Female Collegiate Institute

aka: Springfield College
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, many communities in Arkansas established small institutions of higher learning in an effort to attract and retain young citizens. The small community of Springfield in northeastern Conway County organized the establishment of the Springfield Male and Female Collegiate Institute in the fall of 1887. At the time, Springfield was a thriving community, located at the junction of three important roads. Professor William Beverley Toon, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, was hired as president of the institute. The initial faculty also included Thomas Murphy and a Mr. Trumbul. While the local population composed much of the student population, many “boarding students” came from across the region. While many early schools were affiliated with …

St. Andrew’s College

St. Andrew’s College, located near Fort Smith (Sebastian County), was the first attempt to found a Roman Catholic college in Arkansas. It was established in 1849 by Irish native Andrew Byrne, the first bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock. Byrne never had more than ten priests in Arkansas, and he maintained the Church with funds from the Austrian-based Leopoldine society and the French-based Society for the Propagation of the Faith. With this support, Byrne purchased land near Fort Smith to found the first Catholic college in Arkansas. When later incorporated into Fort Smith, the area was known as the “Catholic mile.” It was bordered on the north by Grand Avenue, on the south by Dodson Avenue, and on the east …

St. John’s Seminary

St. John’s Seminary opened in 1911 in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on Gaines Street as a wing of the Little Rock College for Boys. In its fifty-six-year run, the seminary produced hundreds of pastors, teachers, chaplains, and priests. The seminary was relocated to North Tyler Street in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights neighborhood in 1916 but was closed in 1967 due to financial constraints and a shortage of trained faculty. Today, the campus is the home of the St. John Catholic Center, housing the administrative offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. St. John’s Seminary was started in September 1911 by Bishop John Baptist Morris, who decided the best way to obtain new priests was to open a seminary …

St. Johns’ College

St. Johns’ College in Little Rock (Pulaski County), a school created and run by Arkansas Freemasons, was the first institution of higher education chartered in Arkansas (though the third to open its doors). During its short life, it trained some of the most important future leaders in Arkansas. The vision of the people involved set the stage for Arkansas to provide a quality education for its citizens. Grand Master Elbert H. English, at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas in November 1850, announced the desire of state Masons to create a college for the purpose of educating Arkansas’s citizenry: “Several of the Grand Lodges of our sister states have led off in this noble cause by the …