Seventh Street

At the March 2, 2023, Board Workshop, Dr. Gregory J. Pilewski, the Superintendent of the North Little Rock School District, unveiled a transformational teaching and learning plan for Seventh Street Elementary School that is designed to better serve the school’s students and families.

Dr. Pilewski presented data and findings at the board meeting, which show the achievement scores of students at Seventh Street, over the last decade, consistently lag behind their peers at other schools in the district and across the state. The research further proves the widening achievement gaps that exist at the school.

“This situation calls for an immediate change as the students deserve the best intentional academic support and focus to be future-ready thinkers and leaders,” said Dr. Pilewski.

The new approach will create an academic themed community school and will integrate high-interest, project-based learning at each grade level. The theme will be selected by a Community Advisory Board (CAB) in partnership with local industry and business experts to determine which theme would be the best fit for having students create signature projects. The three different themes for consideration center around engineering and design thinking, animal and veterinary science, or computer science. In addition, each year, students will earn future-ready endorsements due to direct collaboration with industry and business experts who will assist in providing hands-on learning so students are exposed to a variety of guaranteed learning experiences to apply their thinking. Click on this link for the presentation or click on this link to read the narrative. This plan, if approved by the North Little Rock Board of Education, will go into effect in fall 2023.

“This unique way of learning will expose students to a different way of teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom that will build their confidence and skills to drive student achievement,” said Mrs. Mary Beth Hatch, Coordinator of School Innovation.

Currently, the school serves Pre-K through 5th grade. In the proposal, the school will undergo a grade reconfiguration and will eventually serve students in Pre-K through 8th grade. Sixth grade will be added in the 2024-2025 school year, seventh grade in the 2025-2026 school year, and eighth grade in the 2026-2027 school year.

Initial enrollment will be offered to the 350 students already living in the Seventh Street Elementary School zone, with the remaining seats offered on a lottery basis to students living elsewhere in the district and beyond.

“I am excited about the authentic learning opportunities all students will be exposed to while attending the newly-envisioned school. We believe that it will become a unique choice for other students not only in our community but those outside of our attendance zones,” said Dr. Pilewski.

In this first-of-a-kind model for the North Little Rock School District, all licensed staff at the school will be offered the opportunity to reapply for their current positions. To attract, retain, and reward high-quality leaders, teachers, and staff, licensed employees at the school will be presented with a $17,000 stipend over a three year period, above the current district wide pay levels. Click on the link to learn more about the Seventh Street Elementary School Reconfiguration and Transformation stipend. The school will also operate on a different schedule that will create time for students to work on signature projects and receive intensive support in reading and math to ensure they are learning on grade level.

“The additional stipend is designed to attract and reward our best and brightest leaders and teachers to improve education at one of our lowest-performing schools. Simply put, great leaders and great teachers make great schools,” Dr. Pilewski said.

Finally, consideration is being given to rename Seventh Street Elementary School to “The 6-57 Learning Institute,” paying tribute to the six black teenagers who tried to integrate North Little Rock High School in the fall of 1957.

The story of the North Little Rock Six is largely unheard of as it sits in the shadow of the highly-publicized Little Rock Nine, who famously entered Central High School in Little Rock in 1957. But just across the Arkansas River, in the same year, Mr. Eugene Hall, Mr. Frank Henderson, Mr. William Henderson, Mr. Richard Lindsey, Mr. Gerald Person, and Mr. Harold Smith tried to enter North Little Rock High School. They, too, were met by an angry mob and by the Superintendent, who barred their entrance.

Students at the high school television center created this video and interviewed one of the members of the North Little Rock Six. This link takes you to the video.

Integration did not occur in the North Little Rock School District until the 1964-1965 school year, beginning with first and second grade students. Finally, twenty black students entered North Little Rock High School in the fall of 1966, in which five black students graduated in the following spring.

This stipend proposal awaits discussion and approval from the Licensed Personnel Policies Committee. A final vote from the North Little Rock Board of Education is scheduled at an upcoming meeting.