By Ken McLemore/HPS Communications Director
The dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service said the evolution of a public service curriculum for grades 5-8 developed by a graduate student team working with the Hope Academy of Public Service will provide a model for an entirely new concept.
James L. “Skip” Rutherford III, supervised the planning and construction of the Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, and was the founding president of the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Dean Rutherford steered the Little Rock based first of its kind graduate school of public service studies through its formative years. Rutherford said the comparison with the HAPS model in Hope is significant culturally and educationally as Hope is the hometown of former President Bill Clinton, the namesake of the graduate school.
Graduate students Zack Huffman, Caroline Dunlap, Crystal C. Mercer and Andrew S. Trevino have been developing the public service curriculum and associated teaching aids since August, 2016, in conjunction with HAPS faculty and Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke.
“There will be interest to have you prove your point,” Rutherford told the team in a recent visit to the HAPS campus.
He said the April 18 presentation of the team’s research and curriculum proposal at 6 p.m. in Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus marks the first step in what may become a pilot project for school districts statewide. Rutherford said framing the concept of public service within the public schools setting in grades 5-8 correctly is important.
That will be at the heart of the April 18 presentation, which is open to the public, according to Hope Superintendent Bobby Hart.
“I can’t begin to explain what potential lies in this program,” Hart said. “We are grateful for the work these students have done, and hope that we can continue to add to the work in future cohorts of Clinton students.”
Hart said the project has laid the foundation this year for future development.
“The Clinton students are on the verge of completing a project that will shape the face of education in our district and we hope the state,” Hart said. “They were tasked with developing a curriculum based around public service. After listening to our community partners and all stakeholders, I believe they have a model that can be implemented in HPS, and we hope in districts throughout the country.” HAPS Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke said the hands-on nature of the curriculum developed by the Clinton team should smooth its implementation.
“The curriculum the CSPS team has developed is going to enable our teachers to provide service learning instruction to all our students to enrich their learning and participating experiences here at HAPS,” Duke said.
She said that having the Clinton school team on campus each week has been invaluable.
“Our students have learned so much from having these graduate students on campus this year as they have shared their experiences and participated in a variety of events here on campus,” Duke said.
Huffman is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in public policy leadership. He is a former school board member at Houston, Miss., and has taught elementary math in Sumner, Miss.
Mercer, of Little Rock, holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and dance from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Dunlap holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies from the University of Vermont.
Trevino holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he is pursuing a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law while at the Clinton School.