Park Presents at Blue Ribbon Schools Conference

Park Presents at Blue Ribbon Schools Conference
Posted on 11/28/2018
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Park Magnet School Principal, Dr. Sarah Oatsvall, and Kindergarten Teacher and IB Coordinator, Kristal Brandon, are presenters this week at the 19th Annual Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence National Conference. Schools represented at this annual event include those having received recognition through the National Blue Ribbon Program of the U.S. Department of Education. Their session highlights the unique way that inquiry-based learning and growth mindset are guiding principles for staff development and collaboration at Park Magnet.


National Blue Ribbon status for Park Magnet, an IB World School, is important to the Hot Springs community because it represents not only academic excellence, but achievement in schools with a diverse student population, rigorous academic offerings and growth above and beyond state standards, and exemplary staff collaboration. National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation.


The Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence National Conference brings together nationwide K-12 educators from Blue Ribbon Lighthouse Schools as well as National Blue Ribbon Schools to share experiences, resources, reflections, and best practices. Among other session offerings at the conference, Dr. Oatsvall and Mrs. Brandon will explain how inquiry-based learning and growth mindset have contributed to the continued high performance and student success at Park Magnet.


What is inquiry-based learning? In an inquiry-based format, instructors create a classroom environment of active learning that begins with asking questions or presenting challenges/scenarios to students, as opposed to presenting established facts. An inquiry-based format also includes student-led learning, critical thinking, teamwork, and various group activities threaded into daily curriculum. Inquiry-based learning is also a premiere strategy for International Baccalaureate (IB) Schools.


What is growth mindset? This concept is based on terminology and a book by Carol Dweck which points out that we can all always learn new things, and we can always increase skills. Intelligence is not set. By using this principle for staff and students, the culture at Park Magnet promotes dedicated effort to constantly growing and trying to learn new things at every age and stage of life.


“We use the guiding principles of inquiry-based learning and a growth mindset as a method of empowerment for our staff and students. Ultimately, no one should ever be afraid to try something or learn something new. If we can instill this mindset in our students, they will help build and sustain stronger, smarter communities as they grow,” says Park Principal Dr. Sarah Oatsvall.


Since the National Blue Ribbon Schools of the US Department of Education program began in 1982, Park Magnet is among 55 Arkansas schools to receive the award and among 8,800 to receive it nationally. See all National Blue Ribbon School award recipients, here. Schools may be nominated only once for National Blue Ribbon status within a five-year period. Park Magnet was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School in 2009 and again in 2015, and is the only National Blue Ribbon School in Garland County. Learn more about the National Blue Ribbon School Program, here. Learn more about our #HSSD Park IB World School, here.