Springdale’s newest elementary school dedicated to Tontitown, named for former Superintendent Jim Rollins

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school of innovation

A school of innovation is a school that transforms teaching and learning and defines innovation as “a new or creative alternative to existing teaching and administrative practices”.

Source: Arkansas Department of Education.

TONTITOWN — Officials, parents and students celebrated the grand opening of the Jim D. Rollins School of Innovation on Friday.

The Springdale School District’s 18th Elementary School, located on Fletcher Avenue in Tontitown, opened its doors to students in kindergarten through fifth grade last fall. Construction began in October 2020 and continued through February, according to a press release.

The 92,103-square-foot school cost about $20.4 million to build and was financed through a combination of bond products, available construction funds and state partnership funds, the statement said. It has an enrollment of 335 students but can accommodate up to 700.

The dedication ceremony honored former superintendent Jim Rollins, the building’s namesake. Rollins served the school district for 40 years, including 38 as superintendent. He resigned in 2020 to serve as president of the Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale.

“It’s an incredible honor to have my name on the school,” Rollins said. “I love the Springdale School District; I love everything it stands for. It has been the privilege of my life to be the superintendent of this school district and to work with wonderful educators over the years.”

The new school is a daily celebration of Rollins’ living legacy, Superintendent Jared Cleveland said.

“Dr. Rollins has served the children of the Springdale School District in remarkable ways for nearly 40 years, blazing the trail for innovative educational pathways and providing all children with the opportunity to achieve the American Dream prepared by a classroom-based public education. world,” he said.

It’s impossible to imagine the number of students, teachers and families Rollins has touched during his career, said school board chair Michelle Cook.

“He paved the way for so many people in our community — doctors, nurses, teachers, administrators, business people, farmers, engineers, lawyers, welders — I could go on and on,” Cook said. “I would be hard pressed to find a part of Northwest Arkansas that he didn’t touch. He made each of us better, our community better and continues to do so today.”

When Rollins began working in the Springdale School District, Springdale’s population was 23,000, according to council member Kevin Ownbey. Since then, the population has grown to 86,000 and the student population to 23,000, he said.

Under Rollins’ leadership, the district constructed 26 school buildings, as well as leadership development buildings, libraries, media centers, school health clinics, performing arts centers, and wholesale renovations totaling $377 million, Ownbey said.

However, Rollins’ vision was even more impressive than the development he oversaw, Ownbey said. It embraced population growth and demographic changes and was able to meet the needs of the entire community, he said.

Rollins has developed some of the best programs in the state, including the District’s English as a Second Language Program, Family Literacy Program, Professional Development Program, Environmental and Space Technology Initiative, and Community Support Services. students, Ownbey said.

Rollins’ most visionary act was to facilitate innovative learning methods that put the tools of learning in children’s hands when he established the Don Tyson School of Innovations, Ownbey said.

“Dr Rollins has always embraced growth and vision for the future, created opportunity and set excellence as the norm, built community partners and put learning for all first,” said Ownbey.

The goal of the new elementary school is to continue the tradition of excellence that has been established in the district and to lead innovative teaching and learning practices, said principal Annette Thompson.

“For Dr. Rollins, we will follow in your footsteps as innovators and creators,” she said. “Our students will understand how they learn best and have the opportunity to apply their learning.”

Tontitown Mayor Gene McCartney shared the story of education in the community. When the city was created in 1898, the school was a church, a school and a residence for the priest. It was incorporated into the Springdale School District in 1949, he said.

The town continued to have a primary school until 1987.

“Today we can return and once again build on this wonderful legacy through the town of Tontitown,” he said. “We are again seeing courses being held right here on our doorstep.”

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