By Martin Couch
Tiffany Beasley has been the principal at[more] Robert L. Davis Elementary for the last four years and knows she’s at one of the best schools in the state.
“It’s hard to describe how awesome this place is,” she said. “The people make the school and they are amazing.”
The staff and faculty of Davis Elementary are ranked among the top K-5 schools in the Bryant School District with average community rating of five out of five stars. Davis has received a Great Schools Rating of 9 out of 10.
“We have had a wonderful year,” Beasley said. “I have an excellent staff and that makes it easier.”
This year, Davis opened with new floors installed by the district to bring a more modernized setting to the school. However Beasley is extremely excited to see the school accomplish the opening of a new science lab.
“Donna Peters wrote a grant for it and it provides lots of opportunities for hands-on science experiences in their computer lab,” Beasley said.
Students like Samuel Blackwood and Jade Ma won the coveted Hornet Pride award this year and Blackwood placed second overall in a countywide writing contest. Samuel Pierce was the winner of the school’s spelling bee and Natalia Valdez was the runner-up. Both will compete in the Saline County spelling bee in two weeks.
“We have excellent students,” Beasley mentioned.
Faculty-wise, Gaile Amason, a second grade teacher, and Autumn Grant, a fourth grade GT teacher, presented at the Arkansas Reading conference this past fall.
“That was exciting for us,” Beasley said. “The people I work with and the kids are amazing. I have worked in three different school districts, but this is the most dedicated staff I have ever seen.”
Due to the growth of the school district, Davis has begun to experience a diverse student population.
“The demographics of the district are changing so rapidly we are at the point where we are looking at building another elementary school in the future,” Beasley said. “We have a core of students who stay, but we are seeing more transitional students at this school.”
And Beasley is impressed with the parental support that Davis receives from the community.
“I believe what I really like the most is our parental support,” she said. “We have had no problem getting parents when we need them and we have a good partnership with the area police and fire departments. They are willing and ready to engage with us and if we ever have a problem, the Shannon Hills Police Department is right there at a moment’s notice.”
Beasley said new things were also taking place at the kindergarten level.
“We did a Day in Kindergarten where the parents could come during the day and see what goes on and how their students are taught,” she said. “Afterwards, they debriefed with the teacher and found out things they could take home and do with their child. Many of the students are already reading at this age and this was to let the parents know the strategies our teachers take in the classroom. It was brave of our teachers to subjugate themselves to speculation, but we loved it and it was wonderful.”
Already Davis K-2 teachers are meeting with specialists on the Common Core standards that will be instituted for all Arkansas schools in the near future.
“The curriculum is going to change and the teachers are working with the specialist on the Common Core documents on what things will be different,” Beasley said. “Already we have made the move to start fleshing out that curriculum.”
Beasley is also proud to say that Davis is a family school.
“I see my teachers doing things like giving of their free time for these students,” she said. “There is a first-grade teacher who comes in an hour early every day to tutor the kids on her own. When I see that kind of thing happening, it makes it exciting to work here.”
Coming up on Feb. 10, Davis will hold a Mother-son, Father-daughter sock hop in the gymnasium from 6 to 8 p.m. Other agenda calendar items include monthly PTO meetings on the first Monday of the month and Progress Reports will be sent home with students on Feb. 11.
But that’s not all.
“My assistant principal and I provide a leadership lunch bunch where we pull in the children right there on the edge of comprehension, but are still having a little trouble getting to the next level,” Beasley said. “They come to the principal’s office and we sit down and go through chapters of books. We invite the parents to join in and help out at home, but that is one of the most fun things for me. I do the third graders and Ms. Shannon Thommason does the other grade.”
Beasley and Davis Elementary are partnering with the city of Shannon Hills and Alexander as well as the Arkansas Highway Department to build sidewalks and possibly put in a streetlight at the Vimy Ridge Road intersection.
“It’s called our safe route to school program,” Beasley said. “This community has grown up Alexander mountain and the students have to walk to school. That intersection is kind of dangerous and there are no sidewalks, so we are trying to get sidewalks put in and maybe a traffic light.”