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This post is comprised of a constellation of teachers and educators across the state.
We invite you to spend time listening to their voices and consider that the values they brought to our conversations may be similar or complementary to your own – access, advocacy, equity, fairness, grace, kindness, opportunity, participation, understanding.

Reimagine Arkansas w/ Educators

4

Cities/Towns

9

Educators

3

Conversations
The following contains interactive audio elements.
How to Listen:

Move your cursor or finger over the underlined, highlighted words and click to hear that particular piece of audio and to read the broader context of the speaker’s quote.

How to Listen:

Move your cursor or finger over the underlined, highlighted words and click to hear that particular piece of audio and to read the broader context of the speaker’s quote.

It was a teacher that first told Pamela she was smart ☊. It was teachers that helped Travis survive ☊ difficult circumstances in El Salvador and stay on the right path here in Arkansas. For Portia, it was the belief that kindergarten is the groundwork ☊ for someone’s future. And for Cara, it was the way she could light up ☊ the face of a child just by teaching him how to read.

 

In this month’s kit, we bring you conversations with educators across the state, asking them to share their motivations for teaching and to describe their experiences with “the beast” ☊ of Covid-19. The fear that “plagues minds” ☊ has been the greatest challenge as participants offered similar middle-of-the-night concerns ☊ about health risks, cleaning protocols, substitute teacher shortages ☊, new technologies ☊, and combined learning platforms.

But the headline every day ☊ should be that teachers are still showing up with more cases than we can count ☊, fair or not ☊, because they “have to know that kids are ok.” ☊ Principals and administrators practicing servant leadership ☊ and holding open door policies ☊, have been key to creating a pop-up culture where innovation, collaboration ☊ and coordination ☊ are happening on a never seen before scale with such variety ☊ that promises more individualized and more equitable education in the future.
But the headline every day ☊ should be that teachers are still showing up with more cases than we can count ☊, fair or not ☊, because they “have to know that kids are ok.” ☊ Principals and administrators practicing servant leadership ☊ and holding open door policies ☊, have been key to creating a pop-up culture where innovation, collaboration ☊ and coordination ☊ are happening on a never seen before scale with such variety ☊ that promises more individualized and more equitable education in the future.
But don’t call them superheroes just yet. Teachers share a common concern for the fragility of schools ☊ as our primary safety net where their newly appreciated essential role makes it feel like we’re pitting teachers ☊ worried about their health against working parents worried about paying the bills. When schools are the primary avenues for basic survival – food, clothing, healthcare and childcare – we have a “systems within systems” ☊ problem. The covers may now be off ☊, but if you interviewed 1,000 teachers ☊, they would all tell you that they’re not surprised.
To secure the future that our next generation deserves, we need to look beyond hugs and high-fives ☊, “fixes and bandaids” ☊ and ask ourselves what we can do differently because education can’t do it on its own. There is no job description or pay grade that covers all the roles that teachers are expected to play, but solutions exist, and it is up to the entire community ☊ to get behind them.
To secure the future that our next generation deserves, we need to look beyond hugs and high-fives ☊, “fixes and bandaids” ☊ and ask ourselves what we can do differently because education can’t do it on its own. There is no job description or pay grade that covers all the roles that teachers are expected to play, but solutions exist, and it is up to the entire community ☊ to get behind them.

Constellation Kit

Explore this collection of artwork and artist statements inspired by our conversations with educators throughout the state. Download freely, amplify and share generously. Give back if you can.

Artist Andrew Brott

Andrew Brott

Artist

The illustrated objects are representative of the many ways schools provide for their students. This includes not only education, but technology, access to healthcare, and food. I wanted to show these objects as breakable—fundamentally fragile because of our system. The last image brings everything together: “COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the reality that, for many, schools are a fragile safety net. From food insecurity to internet access, we’ve become much more aware of the needs schools address for their students. WE CAN DO BETTER.”
Artist Salma Alonso

Salma Alonso

Artist

In the first carousel, I aimed to illustrate how the education system is a key part of the community. And without it, as an educator named Carla emphasized, inequities in society start to come out in the wash. Food insecure children depend on the lunch program while parents count on classes to work during the day. The pandemic has shown how fragile our systems are and how it’s the responsibility of the entire community to do right by our younger generation.
The second carousel focused on the digital divide. COVID-19 has highlighted digital disparities in many communities. Students with reliable internet access face fewer educational barriers compared to students with limited broadband access. Millennial teachers may be more well-adapted to internet platforms while veteran teachers grapple with redesigning traditional teaching methodologies. It is clear that although we are in one of the most developed countries in the world, not everyone has been able to equally reap the benefits of modern technology.
Artist Alejandra Rubio

Alejandra Rubio

Artist

Through conversations with teachers from around the state of Arkansas, it became evident that educators have taken on more leadership and responsibility than ever before due to the current pandemic. In spite of the stress and worries of their students, parents, and the overall public, these teachers have been able to re-evaluate and provide reassurance and a safe environment as students head back into the classroom. The safety of students is more than a one man job and these educators have gone to great lengths to ensure a positive future for their kids.
Artist Lin Doyle

Lin Doyle

Artist

In listening to the conversations between Arkansas educators, recorded by ReimagineArkansas, I was struck by the genuine spirit of servanthood, compassion, and sacrifice evident in their words. Educators are more than just teachers. They are counselors, caretakers, confidants, and friends to their students. They often are the ones who rise to the occasion to fill in the gaps in a child’s life. Where they lack provision, care, or a listening ear, a child can often find open hearts in their educators. It is a true passion, as displayed by the lack of provision afforded to educators. Our educators are often not paid enough, nor even provided sufficient supplies for their classrooms.
This is the situation we have been in since long before Covid-19 threw a wrench in things—which means educators have had to rise above the behemoth that is the problems already extant in our education system and find the time and resources to fight this new beast. They are heroes fighting two monsters, to defend the hope for a brighter future for our children and future generations. Therefore, we as a community need to do what we can to defend and provide for our educators and our education system, and take the time to listen to them and take their needs seriously.
Artist Shelby Lynn Osbourn

Shelby Osbourn

Artist

The designs produced in response to the given conversation and transcript between a diverse group of Arkansas educators focused on the authenticity, honesty, and accessibility of information to the general public. During this pandemic, it is essential that families receive information accurately and quickly to keep themselves and others safe. The education system is in-flux, the shift has caused teachers, administrators, schools, districts, and the surrounding community to quickly adapt to the ever-changing needs for the safety and wellness of all. Thankfully, this evolution has revealed the cracks in the foundation of the school system and where past fixes have failed and will continue to fail unless properly addressed. From the insider knowledge of Pearla and David, I have highlighted key takeaways. These elements include why teachers go into the field, their overall impact, roles and responsibilities (both publicly known and beneath the surface), and what the community can do to aid them during this time. I pivoted from the concept of “dumping” and visuals that connect to something a bit more light, airy, approachable, and optimistic. I’m sticking with public settings and (interestingly enough) laundry—in terms of reusability, the idea of washing something and then dumping it all out to assess, a means of advertising and marketing, and a method of reorganization. I have utilized elements such as signage, laundromat architecture, clothing, etc. to try to draw all of the disconnected information into one cohesive narrative/visual story.

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Reimagine Arkansas

Because the future belongs to all of us.

info@reimaginearkansas.com