OIE's inaugural Education Innovation Summit brought visionary leaders together with more than 100 teachers and leaders from Arkansas schools to Focus, Connect, and Act to transform education in Arkansas! If you weren't able to attend the Innovation Summit, you may be able to join us for regional follow up meetings.

Our 2nd Annual Innovation Summit was held on September 26th and 27th in Little Rock..more information coming soon!
Regional Summit
OIE has provided regional follow up sessions at Dawson ESC, Crowley's Ridge ESC, and Northwest Arkansas ESC [Learn More]. Would you like to host a follow-up session to pursue deeper learning and planning in the areas that focus on the needs of your students and your communities? We are working on follow up opportunities in other regions in Arkansas.
Stay tuned for more information. Or, contact us to request that we schedule a follow up in your region!
Technology Focus Groups


Our mission is to understand and help teachers and education leaders adapt to the integration of information and communication technology in Arkansas classrooms.
These meetings are a great way to collaborate with other teachers in the state. PD Credits are awarded for attending.

How can we help?

  • App Development
  • Data Analytics
  • Helping Schools with Technology Requirements
  • Creating resources for Computer Science, Programming, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and LEGOs
Contact us to schedule a technology focus group meeting
Collaborate with the experts

Cheryl Dobbertin

Program Director, Teacher Potential Project

Cheryl Dobbertin is the program director for Expeditionary Learning's Teacher Potential Project. She also serves as co-director of Expeditionary Learning's work to develop and provide implementation support for Common Core-aligned ELA curriculum in grades 3-8. Prior to her current position, Cheryl was Expeditionary Learning's Director of Professional Development, an associate regional director, and school coach. Before joining EL, she was an urban middle school building administrator, literacy coach, and high school English teacher at a rural district in Western NY.

She teaches differentiation and Methods for Secondary English at Nazareth College of Rochester. Cheryl is a co-author of Expeditionary Learning's latest book, Transformational Literacy. She is also the author of Common Core Unit by Unit, published by Heinemann in 2013. Her work has also been published in ASCD's Differentiation in Practice: 9-12, Rachel Billmeyer's Strategic Reading in the Content Areas, ASCD's Education Leadership and EdWeek.

Kenneth Grover, M.Ed

Principal, Innovations Early College High School.

Three years ago Kenneth Grover and his staff created a comprehensive and fully reimagined educational experience for 21st Century high school students. Innovations High was created from the ground up with anytime, anywhere learning; full instructional integration with the local community college; career-path support; mastery-based education; college & career readiness; real-time progress monitoring for students and parents; and self-directed learning.

Kenneth has trained educators from around the country to understand and implement scalable personalized learning in their schools. His mission is to provide a student centered, personalized educational pedagogical approach that can be implemented in schools through by placing the needs of the student first.

read more

George Philhower

Assistant Superintendent, Western Wayne Schools.

George has been an administrator at Western Wayne Schools for 7 years, and prior to that he was a special education teacher. George is passionate about the need to create school environments that are flexible enough to adapt to and meet the unique needs of all learners, and he is excited about the steps being taken in his school district to accomplish this goal.

Matt Coleman

Director of Magnet Programs, Texarkana Arkansas School District

Matt Coleman is currently the Director of Magnet Programs at Texarkana Arkansas School District in Texarkana, AR. He previously had nine classroom years, during which he taught English and writing at every level from seventh grade to graduate level college courses. Following that, Matt spent seven years facilitating adult learning for K-12 teachers for both the Texarkana school district and around the state of Arkansas.

Dr. Don Siviski

School Change Coach, Center for Secondary School Redesign
Educator 44 years
Teacher 12 years, Principal 14 years, Superintendent 13 years, State Superintendent of Instruction (Deputy Commissioner level) 3 years, Center for Secondary School Redesign 2 years
Married 42 years (my anchor for culture change), 3 adult children (greatest professors of my life) and 6 grandchildren (my passion for student centered education)
Education: Civil Eng UMO '69, BS Math/Physics UMF '72. MS Admin UMO '77, CAS Admin UMO '92, graduate studies at Harvard University and Bowdoin College
Mr Siviski will address: Competency-based education

Why is such a shift necessary and how insightful were educators and legislators about the need for 21st Century skills? Where are we now and how can each community ensure that graduates have "learned how to learn" and are prepared for the necessitated level of innovation, creativity and collaborative problem solving their future will demand? An education standard established in 1892 doesn't work today. It's time to meet the needs of every child with a personalized anytime everywhere educational experience.

Dr. Deborah Jones

Assistant Commissioner, Learning Services

An educator for 20 years, Dr. Jones specializes in curriculum and instructional design and implementation. As assistant commissioner of Learning Services, a role she began July 1, 2014, Jones oversees the largest ADE division. She has a background in district strategic planning, budgeting and implementation of Response to Intervention programs, intervention models, data analysis and school improvement. She previously served as assistant superintendent in Bryant, principal at Bryant High School, director of secondary education at the Pulaski County Special School District, and principal at Robinson Middle School and Jacksonville Middle School. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, a Master of Arts in Secondary Administration from the University of Central Arkansas at Conway and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is from Charleston, AR.

Kelly Chaney

Master Teacher, UALR Teach, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Kelly has been the Master Teacher for UALRTeach since it began in 2012. UALRTeach introduces science and mathematics majors to the teaching profession through early field experiences which focus on inquiry education. UALRTeach students use project based instruction extensively as they develop lessons which integrate math and science and tie concepts to real world learning.

Kelly taught in the public school for 25 years, first at Holly Grove, then England High School and finally at Cabot. She is a National Board Certified teacher in AYA Science and received a Master of Science Education at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Master of Library and Information Science at University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and is pursuing an Educational Specialist degree in school administration at UALR. She currently serves on the editorial advisory boards for Science Scope and Knowledge Quest and is a book reviewer for NSTA Recommends.

Sandra Leiterman

Master Teacher, UALR Teach, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Prior to joining UALR, she taught middle school math and science in both the Pulaski County Special School District and the Little Rock School District. She wrote a state approved STEM curriculum for a an elective course at Fuller Middle School and helped to implement a number of extra curricular project based competition teams which eventually led to FMS being recognized as a STEM School of Excellence by the International STEM Education Association in 2013. She received a bachelor's degree in Middle School Education, Math Science Specialty, as well as a graduate certificate in K-12 Gifted Education from University Arkansas at Little Rock, and a Master's Degree in Digital Teaching and Learning from Kansas State University.

Sandra currently teaches Project Based Instruction, Knowing and Learning in Math and Science, and STEP 2 (Inquiry Based Lesson Design). She continues to mentor an all girls robotics team at Mills High School, and is increasing efforts to expand the Technology Student Association (TSA) in Arkansas.

Dr. Megan Witonski

Associate Superintendent, Springdale School District

Dr. Megan Witonski began her career as a teacher and principal in Arkansas. She was superintendent for Wickes and Elkins School District. Her passion is assisting students to think beyond current possibilities as they earn a high school diploma and ultimately to their college or career pathway. Innovative approaches to education and how students access knowledge is the cornerstone of the future of learning for students. She was awarded the 2013 Arkansas Rural Education Superintendent of the Year. Megan was appointed to Assistant Commissioner for the Arkansas Department of Education and now serves as Associate Superintendent for Springdale School District. She currently serves on the March of Dimes board and the Springdale Leadership Council.

Dr. Denise Airola

Director, OIE

Denise Tobin Airola is the Director of the Office of Innovation for Education at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Airola's work focuses on enabling and accelerating innovation to address barriers to educational progress, building capacity for improving instruction and leadership practices, and informing policy at the school, district and state levels. She has consulted with several state education agencies on the use of educational data to drive instructional systems change. Prior to her work as an educational statistician and research methodologist, Dr. Airola worked for 18 years in the K-12 public education system. Her education experience includes classroom teaching at the elementary, middle and secondary levels, designing and conducting professional development, curriculum, instruction and assessment alignment, as well as implementing and evaluating K-12 reform efforts.

Innovative Strategies Popular In Arkansas

Competency Based Progression - 66.7%

Expeditionary Learning - 28.6%

Flexible Schedules - 66.7%

Learning Management & Content Management Systems - 42.9%

Personalized Learning Plans - 71.4%

Project-based Learning - 38.1%

**Data from OIE's regional summit survey.
Session Videos
Kenneth Grover (Principal, Innovations Early College High School. SLC, UT)
Innovation is about more than what and how -it is a mindset. This session will set the stage for gaining and sharing an innovation mindset.
Kenneth Grover (Principal, Innovations Early College High School. SLC, UT)
How do you overcome them? This session will serve as an overview of how to get started. Learn about the do's and don'ts as you begin to transform your classroom and school. Attendees will discuss the idea of change vs. transformation and perceived vs. real barriers in school redesign. Attendees will also have an opportunity to consider how they can incorporate aspects of personalized learning in their classrooms, even if their schools are not ready to transform.
Kenneth Grover (Principal, Innovations Early College High School. SLC, UT)
Learn how personalizing learning has improved results for students, and how success at Innovations Early College High School has led to more options for students in other schools in the district.
Kenneth Grover (Principal, Innovations Early College High School. SLC, UT)
What is it, really? How is it different from prior initiatives?
This session will provide attendees with an in depth overview of the current pedagogical shift of education. Attendees will establish a common language and gain a basic understanding of what it means to personalize the learning for students in their school.
Cheryl Dobbertin (Program Director, Teacher Potential Project)
Can standards and innovation live together in the same classrooms?
The teachers and leaders of the Expeditionary Learning network resoundingly say "yes!" In this session we will explore the relationship between rigor and joyous learning -- they are not as dichotomous as you might think. Participants will analyze examples of lessons and student work that show that academic challenge and intellectual "fun" can lead to mastery of knowledge and skills, the development of character, and the capacity to create high-quality work. This session will also highlight a grant-funded opportunity to work with Expeditionary Learning through their Teacher Potential Project.
Dr. Don Siviski (School Change Coach, Center for Secondary School Redesign)
What does competency-based mean? Why are so many people talking about it? What could it mean for my classroom, school, or district?
This session will focus on the growing competency-based learning movement. What are the characteristics of competency-based learning? What are some of the advantages of using competency-based learning strategies? How is this new movement different from other forms of it in the past? What are barriers to it and what are some factors that can help you make it happen?
Kelly Chaney (Master Teacher, UALR Teach, Little Rock)
Sandra Leiterman (Master Teacher, UALR Teach, Little Rock)
PBL seems to be all the rage. Just what is PBL and how can it be used to meet the state standards and the needs of your students?
PBL is being used along a continuum from microscale in classrooms to macroscale across schools and districts. Participants in this session will learn the differences between Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning, key components for designing effective Project Based Units, and how to implement PBL if you are the 'lone wolf' trying it in your building.

Kenneth Grover (Principal, Innovations Early College High School. SLC, UT)
LMS, Learning Analytics, devices, contracts and content, collaboration tools. what are the differences and what difference does it make This session will discuss the different technologies used to personalize any school. Attendees will discuss and identify technologies that will best meet the needs of their students and schools. If you are confused about all the terminology out there, this session will help you gain some clarity.
Santhosh and Kyle will talk about OIE's efforts to reach out to teachers for better understanding on how teachers are adopting technology in the classroom and the challenges they face. Learn how you can be part of OIE's Teacher Focus Group Meetings and what steps we are taking to address challenges faced in the classroom regarding technology integration.

Jon Laffoon (Principal, Pea Ridge High School)
Joe Rollins (Principal, Springdale School of Innovation)
What does it look like in Arkansas for big and small school systems?
These Arkansas leaders share how their districts are innovating career-focused programs and traditional high school schedules to personalize learning for students. You will learn about the features of these programs, how they innovated, and how 'school' has changed as a result of the process. Also, you will see what a day in the life of students looks like in these programs. Learn how these leaders developed relationships with business/industry partners for their career-focused programs and how this helps students connect their learning to real, potential careers.
Kenneth Grover (Principal, Innovations Early College High School)
George Philhower (Assistant Superintendent, Western Wayne Schools)
What does it look when you create this?
This session will include leaders from outside Arkansas, from big and small systems, to show how it can be done in different places with different laws, rules, and resources.
If your students could design their school, what would it look like? If you could design a school, what would it look like? Attendees will find out what happened when a school asked these very questions and then had the courage to implement them! Come and learn what works and what doesn't when implementing personalized learning from one of the national leaders in educational transformation. We will provide an overview of the innovative structure of and outcomes from Innovations Early College High School, Salt Lake City, Utah and Lincoln High School, Cambridge City, Indiana

Innovation Springing Up in Springdale

When you talk to Dr. Megan Witonski, Associate Superintendent in Springdale School District (AR), it feels like she is just about to jump out of the phone, she is that full of passion, insightfulness, and the all-important we-are-going-to-make-this-happen-ness. I couldn't but help imagine her with a superhero cloak.
Springdale, based in Northwest Arkansas, has 23,000 students, half of whom are English Language Learners. The district is entering their second year of implementation of a new 8-12 School of Innovation. The strategy doesn't end with a new school - Springdale is personalizing their school district by having six of their schools approved (and the waivers that come with it) under the Arkansas Department of Education School of Innovation initiative. These six schools all provide students to the School of Innovation, led by principal Joe Rollins.

Read More.

The Language of Concerns: Supporting Teachers through the Common Core Transition
A recording of the online workshop may be accessed by clicking on the following link
Other resources we provided during the online workshop may be found at our Common Core Success website.