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Alma Intermediate School News, September, 2016

From the Principal…

When hiking friend, Nick, asked if I would like to attempt the John Muir Trail (JMT), I jumped at the chance. I wanted to see if the High Sierra Mountains of California were as beautiful as photos I’d seen. I wanted to climb my first 14,000 foot mountain. I wanted to spend twenty-one days on the trail carrying everything needed in my pack.

I learned much from those days on the JMT. The physical challenge was greater than expected. The beauty was much greater than I could imagine. History and stories surrounded the most unlikely locations, especially at 14,000 feet.

I felt thankful at every step of this trip but realized that the sense of adventure came from the unexpected learning that occurred. Some of the best learning occurred where things were hardest.

That unexpected learning can happen right here at home. I often see small adventures in learning happen in our classrooms as students and teachers take on challenges, try new things, or approach a problem from another angle.

There are more than enough adventures to last a lifetime if we have an enthusiasm for learning and exploration. Adventures in learning are what we want for all of our students.

If you want to read more about the JMT hiking trip go to OzarkMountainHiker.com


While we’re on the subject of adventure, be sure to read page 2 of the newsletter linked below where Rebecca Tate shares her summer learning at Mount Vernon. She was selected among hundreds of applications to be part of a small group of teachers for a one-week seminar. Miss Tate experienced a week packed with new learning that will benefit our students and our staff.

To read the entire September newsletter including photos, open this link:

Alma Intermediate School Newsletter 

Newsletter for August, 2016

From the Principal…

This is my 16th year as principal at Alma Intermediate School, and I’m more excited than ever. I feel an intense thankfulness for the work we do in education. As a parent, I’ve seen the positive influence our teachers and schools had on the lives of my daughters.

I’ve now been a principal in Alma long enough to have the privilege of hiring former students to teach at AIS. I’ve also received medical care from former students, and that will make you sit up and pay attention! In both cases, it has been a joy to see these young adults using their knowledge and skills to help others and contribute to our community.

Seeing the words of our school’s mission statement become a reality in the lives of young people is what drives us to be the best teachers, principals, and parents we can possibly be for our children. Thank you for the honor of working with your child, the most treasured person if your life. We look forward to great learning this year!


This link will take you to our August, 2016 Newsletter which includes a listing of new classroom teachers, calendar, and this year’s school supply list. We look forward to seeing our new third graders at Great Start on August 11th from 8:30 – 12:30.

Losing a Mentor and Friend


When I returned from a backpacking trip in California, I learned that my mentor and longtime friend Glynn Calahan had died. She was elderly and burdened with health problems. When I saw her at church on our last visit to El Dorado, we hugged, and she asked about my daughters, Christen and Anna. I will miss Mrs. Calahan very much, but am thankful that I was able to be a teacher in her school.

Below is an excerpt from something I wrote a couple of years ago about Glynn.

In the early 1990s, I applied to teach elementary music in El Dorado while I worked on my master’s degree in counseling. It turned out to be one of the best career moves I’ve ever made.

Since Glynn had known me since childhood, I assumed we’d have a 30-minute “courtesy interview.” I was wrong about that. We spent two hours together. She asked some challenging questions and shared her heart for education. By the end of our interview, I had a much better understanding of her love for students and her philosophy about teaching and learning.

What followed were two of my favorite years in education. I began to think of Glynn as a mentor, watching everything she did. I’d never considered becoming a school principal until after seeing the positive impact she had on students and teachers.

Later, when I became a principal, I tried to be just like her and often noticed similar practices. I had my white notebook (now Chromebook) with students’ test scores and for my observations in classrooms. I had benches placed in the hallways for mini-conferences with students about their learning. I visited classrooms a lot. As a beginning principal, I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I visited classrooms often like I’d seen Glynn do, and there was value in that.

There is no way to measure the influence of Glynn Calahan. It continues through her students and teachers today, and for years to come.

Alma Shares State-Wide in the June Issue of Instructional Leader

The Instructional Leader this month features two articles by educators in Alma!

Page 1 Using Nearpod to Increase Engagement in Learning

Page 3 Robotics is Real World

The following link opens the publication where you can read about the use of Nearpod and Chromebooks at Alma Intermediate School and the use of robotics at Alma High School.

This publication is usually available only to members of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, but since we have articles in this issue, we’re able to share with our parents and staff.

It’s exciting to see our teachers sharing the great work they do!

Instructional Leader, June 2016

“CAN You Draw a Texas Longhorn?”

Principal Notes

My mother with older brother, Reese Kennedy My mother with older brother, Reese Kennedy

Yesterday I was reminded that January 4 would have been my Uncle Reese’s 90th birthday.  He was my mother’s older brother and she loved him very much.  As a child, I was in awe of him because he was an artist.  As an adult, I was in awe of him because of his adventurous spirit, his open questioning mind, and his talent.

When I was 5-years old we were visiting Uncle Reese and his family in Dallas.  For reasons I can’t recall, I was obsessed with Texas Longhorns.  Shortly after we arrived I approached Uncle Reese as the adults were visiting and asked if he would draw me a picture of a Texas Longhorn.  He said he’d do this later and continued to visit with my parents.

I approached my uncle several more times over the next day or two and each time he…

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Newsletter for February, 2016

News Alma Intermediate 0216

Click this link to open the newsletter.

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