Monday, December 17, 2018


High Hopes!

Are you where you thought you would be this time last year? Did you keep your new year resolutions? Did you meet goals that you set for yourself ?  Did you make the grades, lose the pounds, read more, exercise more, practice kindness? December is the perfect time to take a minute and reflect upon the year that is winding down.

Are you like me? I have a mixed bag of successes and opportunities. On a personal level, I consider myself blessed with a loving family who are always nearby and five grandchildren who are the lights of life! I have opportunities this next year to help out more, to get some pictures hung in my home, and to cook more family meals. On a professional level, I am also blessed. What an honor it is to serve my home school community! Teachers are working diligently to provide high quality instruction in a safe learning environment. We are collaborating as professional learning communities to analyze data to determine instructional next steps, and students are being successful! The elementary has been recognized for an award for the students' growth in literacy. High school students are earning scholarships and awards. Is there room to grow?  Sure - but we are moving in the right direction. In addition to success in the classroom, our students also excel in athletics and other extra-curricular activities. Our high school cheerleaders are back-to-back state champions! I am very proud of our students, and they make me smile every day. I know parents and other community stakeholders share my pride in our students!

As I begin to look to where we might be this time next year, I am filled with anticipation about what the future will hold. I am hopeful. Have you heard the song "High Hopes"? It is an old tune that brings a smile to my face (I know that I smile pretty easily!), and I hope it will make you smile as well. What, indeed, makes the ant think he can move a rubber tree plant? Our collective high hopes can make a difference, and I am eager to see what we will accomplish in the year ahead!
Image result for ant christmas

Check out the YouTube song!  And please excuse the quality of the video!

Enjoy the Christmas break!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
Image may contain: 2 people, people standingThe word effort is defined as "a vigorous or determined attempt," "conscious exertion of power," and "hard work requiring time and effort." It is very rewarding to see the efforts our school community is making in order to be successful. Teachers strive daily to provide a well-rounded education to our students. They encourage, support, cajole, and motivate students to embrace their own learning. They plan lessons, they develop activities, they look for real-world applications, and they care about what students are accomplishing. Our students are our mission, and we want nothing but the best for each one.

Image result for effortHowever, learning is dependent
upon the student as well. Students must be willing to put forth the effort to acquire the knowledge and skills in order to provide evidence of their learning. That means students must be both physically and mentally present. They must be attuned to what they are being asked to accomplish. They must ask questions if they don't understand. They have to be willing to put in the time and effort in order to be successful in the classroom. If asked to place yourself on the "Effort Meter," where would you fall?

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It is easy to see the fruits of student effort outside the classroom. The Colt football team demonstrated tremendous effort during this football season. Our band, cheerleaders, and JROTC students have put forth great effort to be successful in their own right as well as in support of one another. Many students are active in clubs and other organizations where they are realizing success not only in being recognized but also for participation. It is great to be a part of group that shares common goals and interests. How I would like that same attitude toward the classwork our students are asked to do each day!

The first semester of the 2018-2019 school year will end December 21st. With willing attitudes and effort, every student can achieve academic success. Remember, success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. Ray Lewis said, "It has nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with effort! Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge that. Because effort is between you and you." You've got this! #WeAreRivercrest

Monday, November 12, 2018


It's fall, y'all! This time of year is truly a time to slow down a bit and give thanks for the many blessings we all have in our lives. From the smallest to the grandest, I've listed some of my special school moments for which I am most thankful:

Photo by Chelsi Hardin
  • daily greetings from students when I walk down the hall - makes me smile!
  • multi-color flip chart markers

  • displays of student work posted in hallways
  • a student who returns the $20 bill that another student unknowingly dropped from his pocket
  • stromboli served in the cafeteria
  • teachers working with one another to develop a plan to meet the needs of a particular student
  • pictures in front of the green screen of students dressed for a special day
  • See You at the Pole events
  • industry and college tours for students
  • band performances
  • tea parties in the Family Consumer Science room
  • colleagues who support one another and enjoy one another's company  
  • JROTC community service
  • technology that works - 99.9% of the time!
  • shiny hallway floors
  • Rivercrest Voices singing at community events
  • completed projects (almost!) - stadium, bus shop, locker room, door replacements ...
  • perfect attendance celebrations
  • football players carrying flags to honor our veterans
  • college acceptance announcements
  • Fall Break - I hope everyone enjoys time with family and friends! I know we will all come back renewed and refreshed to finish the semester strong!
Rivercrest School District - I hold this district near and dear to my heart. It is the place where I graduated from high school, where I began my teaching career, and where very special children (including my grandchildren) attend. What an honor it is to serve in this community! #WeAreRivercrest

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Professional Learning Communities at Work

Rivercrest Elementary was selected to participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) pilot project through the Arkansas Department of Education. On-site consultants are working with faculty to refine curriculum in mathematics and literacy as well as providing support for strong instructional strategies. We are striving to address four critical questions:

  • What do we want students to know and be able to do?
  • How will we know if they are learning?
  • What will we do if they are not learning?
  • What will we do for the students who already know their work?
We have been challenged to revisit our mission, vision, and collective commitments as we strive to meet the rigorous goals that have been set. We are "smack dab in the middle" of a continuous cycle of improvement! We are examining our curriculum, analyzing student achievement, and determining our next instructional steps based upon the data. I can't think of a better methodology to meet the needs of our students. Our ultimate goal is to create an environment of high expectations and intensive support in which each student is able to achieve. 

Heather Friziellie - Solution Tree
We are striving to expand this work throughout the district. We are evaluating what is working well - as well as assessing opportunities for growth. We are considering the structures that we have in place - including scheduling, course offerings, and services provided. Many of the initiatives are working as designed, but we realize there is room for improvement in other areas. After all, we are a learning organization. We will continue to learn and to grow and to impact student achievement in a positive manner. As we reflect upon our mission, vision, collective commitments, and goals, I know that we will gain insights for working collaboratively to ensure the future-readiness of all of our students. #WeAreRivercrest

Monday, October 22, 2018


The Rivercrest School District is continually striving to improve teaching and learning opportunities in order to help all students achieve success.  I have highlighted some key moments below.

  • Teachers are not settling for students' lack of effort. I can think of more than one teacher who has encouraged a student to "re-do" an assignment - and the student was able to to truly demonstrate what had been learned. Oh, how I wish ALL students would give their best every effort the first time - every time!
  • Numerous students in the elementary were recognized for both academic achievement and perfect attendance. I appreciate the parental support for helping those students in their endeavors.
  • Lower elementary students used Book Creator to make classroom books. The students were the authors and the illustrators, and they did a fantastic job. 
  • Rivercrest Voices performed at the Johnny Cash Music Festival and did a great job singing not only the Rivercrest Alma Mater, but also a collection of songs highlighting Johnny Cash.
  • High school teachers are analyzing their curriculum as well as student data. They are looking for ways to better support high levels of student learning.
  • And what about the Rivercrest Band? Those students have worked extremely hard, and their competitions scores are the best the band has ever received.
  • Elementary teachers are continuing to learn about the Science of Reading through the RISE Initiative. I'm excited that our students are learning from the most well-trained staff ever!
  • The football concession stand is nearing completion! It is going to be great to have this round of construction projects finished. 
This first nine weeks of school is in the books! I'm looking forward to the activities that come with the second nine weeks: enjoying the Fall Festival on November 3rd, finishing strong in football, beginning basketball, and relaxing during a week-long fall break. Those activities help round out the full experience of our school community. However, we will never lose sight of learning targets as we strive for continual improvement. #WeAreRivercrest

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


Image result for funny reasons to buy a yearbook

10 Reasons to Buy a Rivercrest Yearbook
#10 - Who wouldn't want to have a lasting reminder of their fabulous hairstyle and their current fashion statements?

#9 - What other publication will you ever own where people have written all kinds of wonderful things about you?

#8 - Who knows, you might actually end of with the autograph of someone who becomes famous?

#7 - Your yearbook will serve as a great reference to figure out who all the "old" people are at your high school reunions.

#6 - The yearbook will entertain your future children as they look back at your pictures!

#5 - Social media posts come and go!  Snapchat and Instagram posts are fleeting moments. The high school yearbook is an analog book that chronicles all school activities.

#4 - The yearbook is a conversation starter! It can serve as reference when someone's name is mentioned. Now, who was that guy in the junior class who...? Do you remember our science teacher...? Who was on the football team?

#3 - Someday you may have to prove to someone that you actually were on the basketball team! or the cheer squad - or in the band - or in the library club - or.... The yearbook connects the person you are now to the person you become in ten or twenty (or thirty or forty +) years.

#2 - The yearbook is a bargain! You can purchase a yearbook in October for only $35.00.  If you wait until November, the price goes up to $45.00, and in January it will cost you $55.00. Buy one now! Just think for only $55.00 tops you can have a priceless treasure that only becomes more meaningful over time.

#1 - Bottom line, the yearbook is truly a keepsake that one values more and more with each passing year.

Yearbooks can be purchased from

Yearbook staff members will also be more than happy to sell you a yearbook.

You don't want to miss out on an opportunity to display your Colt Pride because #WeAreRivercrest!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Homecoming 2018

October 1 - 5, 2018

Homecoming is a special time at Rivercrest. We are a district with strong traditions that foster Colt pride in both our current students and our alumni. I am sure we can all recall a fond memory from a past homecoming. As a student at Rivercrest, I remember the excitement of planning how to dress for the designated days, deciding who would compete in the mini-Olympic events, writing a class skit, and decorating the class float for the mini-parade around the gym. Though
some of the events have changed through the years, the same level of excitement is enjoyed. Please feel free to share your positive homecoming memories. I've shared a couple of mine in the above pictures!

Photo from @RivercrestSD on Twitter on RivercrestSD at 9/25/18 at 1:12PMThe student body had a great voice in this year's planned activities. I appreciate the creativity and simplicity of the designated days. Thought was given to provide everyone with an opportunity to participate. Costumes aren't elaborate, and the main idea is to have fun. I particularly like the "Snack Attack" event where each class is challenged to bring 40 snacks to add to their class count homecoming points. The food items will support the district's Backpack Project. I think this says a great deal about our student body! # ColtPride

I look forward to high levels of student participation. This is a time to have fun, get in the spirit, and support our school. An overview of our activities is listed below.

Monday -
  • Holi"day" - Dress as a holiday-inspired character. 
  • Class Color Day - Wear your class colors in order to be counted!  Beginning with the senior class, the colors are as follows: black, white, blue, orange, pink, and green. Elementary class colors are as follows: PK-blue; K-black; 1st-gray; 2nd-green; 3rd-black; 4th-green; 5th-red; 6th-blue.
  • Mini-Olympics @12:05 in the gym
  • Squad Day - Dress as a duo or a "squad"! Suggestions include peanut butter & jelly, M & Ms, etc. Keep it simple in the elementary if you like by finding a buddy and wearing the same color t-shirt.
  • Male Cheerleaders/Powder Puff @12:05 in the gym
  • Dress for Success - Dress for  your dream career.

  • Red & Gray Day 
  • Court Presentation/Pep Rally @ 2:40 at Cortez Kennedy Field at Colt Stadium
  • Alumni Tailgate & Pep Rally - Tables and chairs will be made available on the new bus lot on the Rivercrest campus for any graduating class. We hope all classes celebrating their reunions will make this their gathering spot. You may bring your grills and tents. Please do not bring any glass containers. Our cheerleaders and band will lead the pep rally at 5:45!
  • Football Game - We play Highland for the big game. The homecoming court will be presented at 6:30, and the game will begin at 7:00. If you haven't been to a game at Colt Stadium on Cortez Kennedy Field aka "the Tez" this is a perfect opportunity!
  • Memorial Service -Plaza next to the cafeteria. The ceremony will begin at 9:00.
Please encourage your student to participate, and I hope you all will plan to attend the football game. I think it is important to celebrate our traditions and build upon those strengths for future generations. After all, #WeAreRivercrest!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do I have to go to school today?

Are you familiar with the poem "Sick" by Shel Silverstein?  It begins:
“I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps."
Missing 10% or more of school for any reason – excused or unexcused  - is defined as chronic absenteeism. It is an indication that a student is academically at risk due to missing too much school. This starts as early as kindergarten. Chronic absenteeism is a warning that students are headed for academic trouble and possibly even dropping out of high school.

Good attendance = more success in both the work force and in college.

Chronic absence – missing 10 percent of the school year or more – affects the whole classroom, not just the students who miss.  (  The time can accumulate quickly!

Arkansas' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan identifies Student Engagement as a School Quality and Success Indicator. Each Arkansas student can gain a full point on the Student Engagement indicator by missing less than five percent of school days in a year. A student is absent if he or she is not physically on school grounds and is not participating in instruction or instruction-related activities. This amounts to missing about 18 school days during the school year. Coming to school late and checking out early also has an impact. 

Students are expected to be at school for 178 days of instruction each year. Teachers work to plan lessons and activities to facilitate learning for each of those days. In answer to the question “Is my child going to miss anything if I don’t send them today?” the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Check this out!

The Hamilton Project has an interactive map that displays information regarding school chronic absenteeism. As you hover the mouse over states, school districts, and schools, the rate of chronic absence by student and school district will appear.  

Good school attendance supports the following:

  •          Hope – for a better future
  •          Faith – that school will help you or your child succeed
  •          Capacity – resources, skills, knowledge needed for future 
      We all know that student attendance is vital for student achievement.  Chronic absenteeism is a solvable problem. I appreciate your support in promoting good student attendance at school - each and every day.  #WeAreRivercrest

BTW - You can finish the poem by clicking here.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Communication, Communication, Communication

Image result for communicationIn the Rivercrest School District we are working to improve our communication with our stakeholders. We have spent quite a bit of time reviewing what works well - as well as what doesn't work well.

Open house this year was in a meet-and-greet format. We have received positive feedback regarding that change. Our required Title I meeting was held separately, and we distributed individual student score reports from our state assessment on that evening. We didn't get quite the turnout we had hoped for, so we will work to improve that format for next year. Our required public meeting is September 11th at 5:30 in the Parent Center. This is a board meeting where district information is shared. Stakeholders are welcome to attend. The public meeting will be followed by our regular monthly board meeting.

One of the major changes we made was adjusting our school calendar. The 2018-2019 school calendar (developed in January) reflects our Parent-Teacher Conference schedule. During the first and third quarter, conferences have been set in the middle of the quarter rather than at the end of the quarter. We hope this will give parents an opportunity to have conversations with teachers in an early intervention method. We want your support in helping our students achieve at high levels.

Now, I realize that we have scheduled an "away" junior high football game on that same night. So our system isn't perfect, but that is something we will address when we plan the 2019-2020 school calendar. I appreciate your understanding that we are involved in a continuous cycle of improvement, and we don't always get it exactly right the first time. However, we will learn from our mistakes and make the proper adjustments moving forward (just like we do with students at school).

We have several other methods of communication as well.
  • Home Access Center - This allows you to check your child's grade at any time. 
  • Remind - This is a messaging system used by teachers as well as the district.
  • District Web Page - This is the official information page for the district. Here you will find links to key information as well as news.
  • Facebook - This is our social media presence. 
  • Twitter - Another avenue for quick bits of information. We are currently promoting these hashtags:  #WeAreRivercrest and #ColtPride
  • Instagram - I admit that I don't know much about this media!
All district employees have a school e-mail address, and we encourage parents/guardians to contact the school with any questions or concerns - or to share good news about their child's learning experiences! Each teacher has a daily planning period, and individual conferences can be scheduled as needed. Many teachers have web pages of their own, and some teachers share newsletters as well. In the elementary, "red folders" are sent home daily with students. 

We strive to have open, clear communication with our stakeholders. It is important for you to know what is going on in the school. It is important for you to have conversations with your child's teachers. Your partnership is vital to your child's success. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

School "Politics"


  1. the science and art of political government; political science
  2. political affairs
  3. the conducting of or participation in political affairs, often as a profession
  4. political methods, tactics, etc.; sometimes, specif., crafty or unprincipled methods
  5. political opinions, principles, or party connections
  6. factional scheming for power and status within a group: office politics

Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

This past week our students at Rivercrest High School participated in the political process by running for officers of our various school organizations. From a historical perspective, we know that education is essential to our democracy. Education has the imperative to develop a well-educated citizenry, and we emphasize civic education. Campaigning has been a fun exercise of our students' political know-how and stretching of their wings. 

I am very pleased to report that the election results are already in and have been posted - so please don't see this article as an endorsement of any particular candidate! Our students all kept their campaigns upbeat and positive, and I didn't hear any campaign promises that were beyond anyone's ability to deliver. The students' engagement in the process has actually been enjoyable! They have had the opportunity to express their voices, and some have had a great time running their campaigns. Stickers and ribbons were distributed by some. While some students went a very traditional route with their campaign signs, others went in a very different direction. I've included some of the signage for your enjoyment. 

At the end of the day, we may (or may not) have any budding politicians. However, our students have had an opportunity to participate - on a very small scale - in what the real world is experiencing during election 2018. They have committed to serve their school community, and I know they will serve the student body well. And you never know - one of these students may someday be the voice of Mississippi County!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Small Steps

Monday morning the students in PE were completing a physical fitness assessment. The event they were participating in was the standing broad jump. Much to everyone's surprise, I decided to give it a try. If you want to know how far I "jumped" you will have to read to the end!

Image result for standing broad jump pictureMy very loosely defined "jump" has given me food for thought this week. How often am I willing to put myself in a position where I may not be very successful? What does the environment have to be like that will allow me to try something new? How confident am I that I won't be teased or taunted when my efforts fall short? Is there someone around who is going to encourage me to try again or show me how to improve on my effort?

At Rivercrest, we have learning environments that support student learning. Teachers strive to develop classroom cultures where students have opportunities to try - and try again - new concepts and skills. Teachers stand ready to offer different approaches and to nurture students on their  journeys to reach their learning targets. In school (as in life) we don't always get it right the first time. Our small steps mark our progress.

I am reminded of  Neil Armstrong's quote from the first lunar walk, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Each of us takes small steps every day that propels us on our way. Let's not be afraid to take that first step. Who knows where they may lead!

My "jump?" Well, it was a stunningly unspectacular 2'10".  But I didn't fall, and none of the students laughed at me. I was supported and encouraged - by the students. That small step has caused me to reflect on another source of pride in our school community. We are Rivercrest.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Welcome Back!

Welcome! The 2018-2019 school year is off to a great start! I am challenging myself this year to do a better job of telling our school district's "story," and this blog is a starting point for me. I hope you will bear with me as I find my voice for this type of story telling.

With the start of the new year, I'm having a difficult time narrowing my focus. I'm questioning myself to see if I should share how engaged our faculty and staff were during our back to school professional learning. Some of you might interested to learn what is special about 212°.

Others might be interested to know that our first day of school was GREAT! Elementary students were excited to "get in the game" with life-sized games and activities in the elementary gym. High school students adjusted quickly to Colt Flex 3.0, and classes went exceedingly well.

Some of you might have had concerns with school safety. Not only did our school resource officers participate in training over the summer, but they have also worked on safety matters with all school personnel. Traffic  patterns have been adjusted, bus safety has been emphasized, and everyone has been reminded about the state law that prohibits talking on a cell phone in a school zone.

Maybe I should share the academic goals of the district. We are focusing on reading - particularly in the identification of key ideas and details, vocabulary - think prefixes, suffixes, and root words, data interpretation - specifically tables, charts, and graphs, and learning targets - being clear about what each lesson is about in every class. Our goal is for students to say, "Today I learned... and it is important because..." Your assistance in achieving our goals will be greatly appreciated.  I hope you will ask your children about their learning every day!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoorI've also given thought to how I need to brag about our students, parents, community members, teachers, and administrators. What an impressive turnout for our "Meet and Greet" open house! The open football practice in Colt Stadium was well attended, and we have some ideas on how to expand that next year. The community prayer walk had the largest participation ever. And I can't forget to mention how community members have responded in time of need - from mopping floors from the "flood" in the elementary to leveling ground for a grass practice area - our community is here to support our school. Now that is Colt Pride!

That makes me think of how we hope to use social media to highlight all the great activities occurring in Colt Country. We are introducing the hashtag #WeAreRivercrest. We hope this hashtag will be used to help tell the positive story of the Rivercrest School District. This is in addition to the two other frequently used hashtags #ColtPride and #RivercrestReads.   

Narrowing my focus is definitely the challenge for me! In future blog spots, I will try to do a better job. Thank you all for your support of the Rivercrest School District!