Educational Organizations and Programs

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Arkansas Academy of Science

The Arkansas Academy of Science (AAS) aims for the promotion of knowledge in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and mathematics and the diffusion of that knowledge. The AAS is the Arkansas component of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The first meeting of the Arkansas Academy of Science occurred in 1917. The AAS was created by a group of Arkansas scientists who wanted to develop a vehicle for the promotion of science as well as dissemination of research by Arkansas scientists. This was achieved by organizing annual meetings and publishing a journal. The annual meetings include sessions in which fledgling scientists present their findings in areas of biological and physical science as well as engineering, mathematics, and …

Arkansas Aerospace Education Center (AEC)

aka: Aerospace Education Center
Located near Little Rock National Airport (Adams Field), the Arkansas Aerospace Education Center (AEC) provided the state with aerospace education through the Workforce Development Center of University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College. The center, which is owned by the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society, also housed the state’s only IMAX theater and a library that held the Jay Miller Aviation Collection of aerospace materials. When fundraising began, the center was intended to include a magnet school, a library of aerospace materials, a museum, and an IMAX movie theater. Before the center’s completion, however, the Little Rock School District decided not to build an aerospace magnet school at the center. Another feature, to be called the Arkansas High Technology Training Center, also was …

Arkansas Art Educators

Arkansas Art Educators (AAE) is a statewide organization of art teachers. The organization’s focus is to advocate for art education through supporting legislation and providing quality professional development for all art instructors in the state. AAE began as the art section of the Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA), which later became the Arkansas Education Association (AEA). The art group met as early as November 1922 for the ASTA fall conference. Classroom teachers from across the state gathered to discuss how to incorporate picture study and art history into the classroom curriculum. The group continued to meet yearly to hold elections and to discuss ways to further art education in the Arkansas school system. Members supported art education by writing articles …

Arkansas Boys State

aka: Boys State
With strong participation numbers and an impressive alumni list, Arkansas Boys State is arguably one of the most successful chapters of the American Legion–sponsored Boys State program. The national program began in 1935, with Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card of the Illinois American Legion—which was the first sponsoring organization—credited with the original idea. The Arkansas program was established in 1940. Its alumni body boasts some impressive names, including President Bill Clinton, whose efforts at the 1963 session earned him the selection as the Arkansas representative to Boys Nation—a national gathering of Boys State representatives from across the country—where he met President John F. Kennedy, a meeting captured in a now iconic photograph. Other Arkansas participants who have gone on to …

Arkansas Division of Higher Education

The Arkansas Division of Higher Education is responsible for the regulation of the state’s public two-year and four-year institutions of higher education. The first attempt to regulate higher education in the state came through the establishment of the Arkansas Committee on Higher Education in 1949, which consisted primarily of state legislators and the leaders of institutions of higher education. The commission’s report to the Arkansas General Assembly in 1951 recommended the creation of a control board to coordinate efforts regulating higher education. Prior to this, state institutions were fairly autonomous, and the legislature exercised oversight primarily through appropriations, which led to institutions competing with each other for state money. In addition, the commission reported that “in some cases local pride …

Arkansas Education Association

The Arkansas Education Association (AEA) is a group of teachers, administrators, and support staff who promote public education and the teaching profession. The association closely monitors the state legislature, the state Department of Education, and school boards, and it lobbies for policies decided on in its Representative Assembly. The association was organized on July 2, 1869, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) as the State Teachers Association. Thomas Smith, the first state superintendent of public instruction, founded the group and was its first president. Twenty-two people signed on as charter members. Smith wrote that the group’s purpose was “promoting the cause of popular education in the state and uniting the teachers and superintendents in closer and more intimate fraternal relations in …

Arkansas Girls State

aka: Girls State
Arkansas Girls State is a summer program of education that has been sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Arkansas since 1942. As of 2014, it has provided training for more than 55,000 Arkansas girls in the fundamental aspects of citizenship and practical government. The purpose of Arkansas Girls State is to educate young women of high school age in the duties, privileges, and responsibilities of American citizenship and to provide an opportunity for them to participate in the actual functioning of their government. The National American Legion Auxiliary, which had established a Boys State program in 1935, first sponsored Girls State in 1937–38, and as of 2014, fifty-one departments have such a program. More than 25,000 high school students …

Arkansas Governor’s School (AGS)

Arkansas Governor’s School (AGS) is a six-week summer residential program for gifted and talented students who are upcoming seniors in Arkansas public and private high schools. AGS is funded by the Arkansas state legislature as a portion of the biennial appropriation for gifted and talented programs in the budget of the state Department of Education. The state funds provide tuition, room, board, and instructional materials for each student at the school. A site selection team from the Department of Education reviews applications from Arkansas colleges and universities and awards a three-year contract to lease the site. Hendrix College was the host institution since the inception of AGS in 1980 until 2018, when the state Board of Education voted to transfer …

Arkansas Library Association

The Arkansas Library Association (ArLA) is a statewide organization created to further the professional development of all library staff members; to foster communication and cooperation among librarians, trustees, and friends of libraries; to increase the visibility of libraries among the general public and funding agencies; and to serve as an advocate for librarians and libraries. Organized on January 26, 1911, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the association was created as part of an effort to encourage the legislature to support increasing funding for public libraries. Led by the Little Rock Public Library and the Fort Smith Public Library, the new organization had additional members from Arkadelphia (Clark County), Conway (Faulkner County), Helena (Phillips County), and Waldron (Scott County). Early efforts …

Arkansas Model United Nations (AMUN)

The Arkansas Model United Nations (AMUN) is a program located on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). Each November, hundreds of high school students and teachers from the state of Arkansas and neighboring states attend the AMUN conference as representatives (delegates) of member-states of the United Nations (UN). The delegates participate in simulations of the UN General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice, and other UN bodies. The AMUN was formally established by Professor Simms McClintock and several students at UCA, then known as Arkansas State Teachers College (ASTC), in the fall of 1966. McClintock, who had served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, earned a …

Arkansas Political Science Association

The Arkansas Political Science Association (ArkPSA) is a professional, membership-based organization of college and university professors and students in the subjects of political science, public administration, public policy, and related academic disciplines in the state of Arkansas. The membership of the ArkPSA has also included practitioners and other professionals with an interest in international, national, state, and local government and politics. The ArkPSA holds an annual two-day meeting during which scholars present the results of their research on topics related to government and politics. The annual meetings, which also include roundtable discussions on topics of interest to the membership, have been held at various college and university campuses and other locations around the state. The ArkPSA was formally established during …

Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches

Arkansas Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch, Inc., was founded in 1976 as an exclusively charitable and educational organization for “the prevention of cruelty to boys, by providing a home, ranch, and training school for underprivileged boys.” The organization was created to provide a non-governmental residential childcare program for boys from all Arkansas counties. Today, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches, Inc., provides residential and non-residential services to both boys and girls. The organization was incorporated on January 6, 1976, after two years of planning. In the early 1970s, a group of sheriffs asked the seventy-five-member Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association (ASA) to help develop a children’s home that would rely on the generosity of Arkansans. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, some of these sheriffs …

Arkansas State Teachers Association

The Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA) is a professional organization for education professionals that adheres to a non-union and non-partisan operation policy. Professional membership in ASTA is open to any employee of an educational entity—certified, non-certified, and classified. ASTA is unrelated to an earlier organization which went by the same name and later became the Arkansas Education Association (AEA). The roots of ASTA intertwine with its national organization, the Association of American Educators (AAE). AAE was established in 1994. In 2001, groundwork began for an AAE affiliate in Arkansas. ASTA was established in 2004. ASTA and AAE are licensed by the IRS as 501(c)(6) professional trade organizations. Like organizations it partners with in other states, ASTA works collaboratively with local …

Arkansas Teachers Association (ATA)

The Arkansas Teachers Association (ATA) was an organization that strove for racial equality in education for young African Americans. From 1898 to 1969, it was instrumental in equalizing salaries for black teachers across the state, integrating schools during the desegregation era, and fighting teacher displacement. In 1898, a group of fewer than a dozen teachers in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) created the State Teachers Association of Arkansas, which later became the Arkansas Teachers Association. The teachers—including the association’s first president, Joseph Carter Corbin—wanted to increase the value of black children’s education, ensure better health for the black community, improve school buildings and equipment, and provide better preparation for teachers. No written records are available on the association until the 1928 …

Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities

Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities (AICU) represents the state’s eleven accredited private institutions of higher education. The organization operates from offices in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), specializing in governmental and public relations for private higher education. As of 2019, the members of AICU are Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Central Baptist College in Conway (Faulkner County), Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould (Greene County), Harding University in Searcy (White County), Hendrix College in Conway, John Brown University (JBU) in Siloam Springs (Benton County), Lyon College in Batesville (Independence County), Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County), Philander Smith College in Little Rock, the University of the …

Carnegie Libraries

Four libraries built in Arkansas between 1906 and 1915 using grants from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie carry the classification “Carnegie Libraries.” These four libraries were built in Eureka Springs (Carroll County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Morrilton (Conway County). Of these, two continue to operate as libraries (Eureka Springs and Morrilton), one has been dismantled (Little Rock), and one is being used for a new purpose (Fort Smith). It is not known how many Arkansas cities applied for grants from Andrew Carnegie, or how many requests were denied, although very few communities nationally were denied grants. One exception was Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). Principal Isaac Fisher solicited library funds from …

Central Arkansas Library System

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) is the largest library system in Arkansas. Created in 1975, the system includes fourteen libraries located in Pulaski and Perry counties. The first public library to open in central Arkansas was the Little Rock Public Library in 1910. Earlier efforts to create libraries in the city included the library of the Little Rock Debating Society in the 1830s and newspaper publisher William Woodruff’s circulating library in the 1840s. After the Civil War, the Mercantile Library opened in the city and was available to professional men. After a merger with the Marquand Library, created for use by employees of the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad, the library was acquired by the Young Men’s Christian …

Chautauqua

The Chautauqua movement, in the form of traveling “Circuit Chautauquas,” provided self-enrichment and cultural programs for Americans across the country in the early twentieth century. In an era before widespread electronic sources of news and entertainment such as radio, Chautauqua allowed people who lived beyond large cities to experience lectures on a variety of subjects, as well as theatrical offerings and music ranging from Metropolitan Opera stars to bell ringers. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt called Chautauqua “the most American thing in America.” Governor Charles Brough of Arkansas, himself a popular circuit lecturer, said, “Chautauqua is America’s summer school.” Xenaphon Overton Pindall, who served as acting governor of Arkansas from 1907 to 1909, was also a popular circuit speaker. The name …

Delta Symposium

The Delta Symposium is an annual conference sponsored by the Department of English, Philosophy, and World Languages at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). The symposium welcomes multidisciplinary submissions and presentations dealing with the Mississippi Delta region; of particular interest are submissions that engage the question of the Delta’s culture, arts, and lifestyles, and their effect upon the blues. The Delta Symposium was created in 1994 as a conference that would appeal to both the general public and the academic community. First organized under the name of the Delta Studies Symposium, this changed when it became evident that the genre of the blues offered the most wide-ranging and multidisciplinary topic for exploration. A committee composed of faculty members of …

Division of Elementary and Secondary Education

Through the Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019 (Act 910), the Arkansas Department of Education (originally established by Act 169 of 1931 as the State Department of Education) was renamed the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education and absorbed alongside a number of other education-related agencies into the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), a new cabinet-level department. The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education  is administered by the State Board of Education and oversees the 244 public school districts in the state. The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education assists schools in developing curriculum, accredits schools, approves textbooks used in state public schools, licenses teachers, provides continuing education programs, and much more. In general, the Division of Elementary and Secondary …

EAST Initiative

The EAST Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), provides oversight, training, and support for the nationally recognized EAST model of education that is practiced in schools across the nation. EAST, originally an acronym for Environmental and Spatial Technology, is an educational program that combines elements of technology education, collaborative teamwork, and service learning in a model that stresses student engagement. EAST was piloted at Greenbrier High School in Greenbrier (Faulkner County) during the 1995–96 school year. Founder Tim Stephenson was a second-career educator working with at-risk students who were struggling or underachieving in the traditional classroom atmosphere. He created an alternative environment utilizing self-directed, project-based learning, allowing the students to choose their own projects according to …

Economics Arkansas

aka: Arkansas Council on Economic Education (ACEE)
In 1962, Archibald (Arch) Ford, Arkansas education commissioner, and Bessie Moore, supervisor of education, formed the Arkansas Council on Economic Education (ACEE) as a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization to promote economic literacy in Arkansas. Now known as Economics Arkansas, the organization’s mission is “to promote economic literacy and the economic-way of thinking to students in Arkansas by empowering educators to teach the fourth ‘r,’ real life economics.” Economic education is real-life, because young people will grow up and become part of the marketplace. The council provides resources and training to Arkansas teachers (kindergarten through twelfth grade) in public and independent schools. Through training of teachers, a multiplier effect is achieved. Each school year, the training a teacher receives through Economics …

El Dorado Promise

The El Dorado Promise is a scholarship program established in January 2007 by Murphy Oil Company. The initiative provides El Dorado High School graduating seniors with a grant for tuition and expenses at any two- or four-year post-secondary institution in the United States. The maximum amount paid by the grant is set by the highest annual resident tuition at an Arkansas public university, but the funds can be used to attend any accredited U.S. college or university. This program covers only associate and baccalaureate degrees. The El Dorado Promise was modeled after the successful Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan, and the city of El Dorado (Union County) has seen similar growth and increased national attention. Murphy Oil, headquartered in El Dorado, …

Instructional Microcomputer Project for Arkansas Classrooms (IMPAC)

The Instructional Microcomputer Project for Arkansas Classrooms (IMPAC) was an innovative program that helped make emerging microcomputer technologies a key component of education in Arkansas. Influential across the nation, IMPAC was cited for excellence by Electronic Learning, Instructor Magazine, Pro Education, Information Week, the National Governors Association, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, Nelson B. Heller & Associates, and the Southwest Education Development Laboratory. A number of Arkansas educators made significant efforts in laying a foundation for the use of microcomputers in instruction, as well as providing for technical support and workshops for teachers and school administrators, K–12. New technologies of the 1980s included networking microcomputers, the progression toward online resources, computer-assisted instruction and multimedia, and instructional management software for …

Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teachers

Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teachers were funded by a $1 million endowment from the Jeanes Fund, also known as the Negro Rural School Fund. It was created in 1907 by Pennsylvania Quaker Anna Thomas Jeanes to support African-American education in cooperation with white state and county school officials who hired industrial supervising teachers to work in rural black schools. Most black educators were appointed by and depended upon southern white largesse. Such was certainly the case for Jeanes Supervisors. While the Jeanes Fund initially provided all the monies for industrial teachers’ activities, county school boards and quorum courts increasingly began paying at least part of their salaries and traveling expenses for the resources they required to perform their jobs. In Arkansas, …

LifeQuest of Arkansas

LifeQuest is a program for active seniors sponsored and supported by twenty Little Rock (Pulaski County) interfaith congregations and hosted by Second Presbyterian Church, all as part of their mission to serve the needs of all of their parishioners. The basic LifeQuest format is a series of eight weekly sessions in hour-long units held all day on Wednesdays and on Thursday mornings. A standard LifeQuest year contains three eight-week terms and one four-week summer term, with breaks in between. A typical week’s sessions will cover dozens of topics, with attendees choosing among them. While many of the units are traditional lectures, with visual aids, others focus on activities such as painting with watercolors, drawing, oil painting, learning foreign languages, playing …

Mississippi County Community College Solar Power Experiment

In 1976, the Department of Energy and the Solar Energy Research Institute were allotted funds for a Total Energy Solar Photovoltaic Conversion System that would be the largest of its kind in the world. The location chosen for the project was Mississippi County Community College (MCCC), now Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC), in Blytheville (Mississippi County). The project design included the installation of solar panels, as well as additional funding for the college facility. The main purpose of the project was to build an energy-efficient structure and harness solar power from the panels in order to coordinate, monitor, and manage energy production. With the United States facing an energy crisis in the mid-1970s, President Jimmy Carter created a comprehensive energy plan …

Museum of American History

The Museum of American History, formerly known as The Museum/Cabot High, is the only student-founded and -operated museum of history in Arkansas. The award-winning museum, which is owned by the Cabot School District, was founded in 1985 on the campus of Cabot High School and was later moved to a building in downtown Cabot (Lonoke County). The idea for a museum operated by teachers and students originated in 1981 after high school teacher Mike Polston observed how historical artifacts sparked his students’ interest. He and fellow teacher David Howard formed a school history club with the stated goal of collecting, preserving, and displaying objects associated with the history of the United States. Exhibits were initially constructed in the school library; …

Museums

Arkansas’s many museums—most focusing on state and local history, science, and military history—are an important part of Arkansas’s culture, as they promote education and the preservation of valuable artifacts. The University of Arkansas Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County), which was founded in 1873, is most likely the first public museum in Arkansas. (The university maintains the collections of the museum, though there is no dedicated museum space as of 2013.) Another early museum is the Fort Smith Museum of History, originally called the Old Commissary Museum, which was founded in 1910 in a building built in 1838; the present-day museum is located in a different historic building, the Atkinson-Williams Building. The Museum of Natural History and Antiquities (which later became …

Ozark Natural Science Center

The Ozark Natural Science Center (ONSC) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental educational organization facility in the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s Bear Hollow Natural Area, located adjacent to the McIlroy Madison County Wildlife Management Area in northwest Arkansas. ONSC offers summer camps, adult and family programming, and conference facilities but is best known as the site of school excursions for more than 4,000 public and private school students from Arkansas and beyond each year. The mission of ONSC is to “enhance the understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Ozark natural environment.” This mission is achieved by providing educational programs that immerse participants in the Ozark ecosystems and celebrate ecological and cultural diversity, foster conservation and stewardship, and nurture appreciation of …

Ponca Elk Education Center

The Ponca Elk Education Center was established in 2002 to serve wildlife enthusiasts coming to Newton County to view elk, which were introduced to the state in 1981. The center is in a handsome log building on Arkansas Highway 43 in the village of Ponca in western Newton County. The building was for a short time used as a charter school by a religious organization and was later leased by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The Ponca facility has displays of elk and many other Arkansas wildlife. It features eye-catching photographs and a gift shop selling nature-related items, as well as hunting and fishing licenses. There is also a small meeting room. Porches offer visitors a chance to …

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 …

Sequoyah National Research Center

The Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), located in the University Plaza in Little Rock (Pulaski County), 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 …

University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES)

The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES), an arm of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, offers non-traditional education, bringing university research to Arkansans to help improve their lives. The UACES disseminates information on agricultural production, protection of natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, rural community development, and public issues education. With offices in every county, the UACES provides easy access to information that has practical and immediate application. The UACES state headquarters is in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on land that borders the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). Three federal legislative acts, passed during the mid- to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created the national Agricultural Extension Service …

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute of the University of Arkansas System (commonly called the Rockefeller Institute) is an educational institute and conference center. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization seeks to continue the legacy of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller by serving the people of Arkansas with ongoing learning opportunities and by providing a place for group meetings and conferences. The Rockefeller Institute is located on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton (Conway County), on 188 acres of the original grounds of Governor Rockefeller’s model cattle farm. Winthrop Rockefeller died in 1973, and, that same year, the nonprofit Winrock International was established. In 2004, Winrock vacated the facilities on Petit Jean and relocated to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Washington DC. The property reverted to …

Women’s Library

The Women’s Library was formed in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1982. Completely volunteer based and operated, the library lent books, musical recordings, and local and national periodicals that supported women’s rights and self-education. Many of these materials could not be found at Fayetteville’s public library or in local bookstores, and so the library was a central resource for early gender and women’s studies courses at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. The library sponsored special events like book and craft fairs, live music, and poetry readings in its space. In addition, it donated materials to women’s prisons and to the Women’s Project in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The library closed in 2000. The Women’s Library was created by a …

World Services for the Blind

aka: Lions World Services for the Blind
World Services for the Blind (WSB), located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is the only organization in the United States, if not the world, that offers career-path professional training for adults who are blind or visually impaired. The mission of the organization is to educate adults who are blind or visually impaired for careers and independent lives. Founded by Roy Kumpe and the Lions Clubs of Arkansas in 1946, the organization was first known as the Prevocational Adjustment Center for the Adult Blind. The passage by the U.S. Congress of the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936 created the first significant employment opportunities for blind individuals in Arkansas and throughout the nation. The Prevocational Adjustment Center’s original mission was to train Arkansans …