Team-Based, Arkansas-Focused Practicum Projects Announced for 2022-23

Seven teams of first-year students from the Clinton School of Public Service will complete Arkansas-focused public service projects in partnership with public agencies, community initiatives, academic ventures, and nonprofit organizations across the state during the 2022-23 academic year.

The first of three major field service experiences for Clinton School students, the first-year Practicum is a closely mentored, team-based project in Arkansas. As part of the school’s Master of Public Service degree program, the students will earn academic credit for their work on projects that include an environmental scan of academic resources in a Little Rock school district, recommendations regarding rural teacher recruitment and retention, and examining how Little Rock can revitalize its downtown urban core.

“Practicum is a great first core component of the Clinton School curriculum because it ties student interest with theory and practice,” said Beth Quarles, Director of Local Programming and Regional Outreach for the Office of Field Service. “Students learn to navigate team dynamics and community partnerships in order to create deliverables that can have a lasting impact for the organizations they work with. Our Practicum partners have some wonderful goals and plans for the ways they work in our state and we are fortunate that they allow our students to work alongside them.”

Clinton School students will participate in the projects while also completing first-semester coursework on topics such as program planning and development, field research, and communication.

Arkansas-based organizations interested in partnering with the Clinton School on future projects should contact Quarles at

2022-23 Practicum Projects:

Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses

Team Members: Summer Lollie (Dallas, Texas), Rachel Monnahan (Little Rock, Ark.), Cameron Witt (Hot Springs, Ark.), Fawad Zia (Peshawar, Pakistan)

Project Description: Students will assess, analyze, and identify the community served by the Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses. This research will help AAAB to design and build a hybrid online-offline community; strengthen AAAB’s collaboration with other organizations in the community; and assist the organization in its strategic growth, including staffing and future programs and events.

Supervisor: Dr. Yang Luo-Branch, Executive Director, Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses

“The Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses (AAAB) is the only organization in Arkansas currently with a special focus on Asia in business, as we connect Arkansas and Asia to further our local economies and professional growth. Leveraging the resources at the Clinton School of Public Service, a world-class institution right here in the heart of Arkansas, aligns beautifully with our organization’s broad view which crosses the borders of ethnicity, social classes, and geographic boundaries. With the Practicum program’s help, we hope to discover what the future holds for the AAAB community.” – Dr. Yang Luo-Branch

The Celebrate! Maya Project

Team Members: Leroy Edwards, Jr. (Pine Bluff, Ark.), Babatunde Oladele (Prescot, United Kingdom), Aiyana Houston-Hay (Sacramento, Calif./Little Rock, Ark.)

Project Description: Students will help The Celebrate! Maya Project expand its programming that could include after-school tutoring and mentoring to benefit youth in the Little Rock Central High School district. The team will conduct an environmental scan of the available programs and resources in the areas of literacy, writing, math, and soft skills; the needs and gaps in services and resources; and potential opportunities for partnership.

Supervisors: Janis F. Kearney, Founder/President, Celebrate! Maya Project,

Joyce Willis, Board Member, Celebrate! Maya Project

“The Celebrate! Maya Project is honored and very excited to have been selected as a partner organization to host students from the Clinton School of Public Service. We look forward to learning and sharing throughout this Practicum. This will be an enormous benefit to us, affording a small organization such as ours, access to invaluable research that assesses the literacy and learning needs of our community, identify potential stakeholders in our youth-focused programs and potential alignments with other community organizations, initiatives and institutions. We are confident this Practicum will help the Celebrate! Maya Project in planning and expanding our programming to best serve not only our target youths, but the ‘Village’ that nurtures these young people’s growth and future success.” – Janis Kearney

Lake Nixon Outdoor Center

Team Members: Emma Minden (Little Rock, Ark.), Macie Johnson (Bauxite, Ark.), Montana Cramer (Hot Springs, Ark.), Dotun Olagbaju (Ile-Ife, Nigeria)

Project Description: Students will research best practices and peer organizations in outdoor recreation and environmental education. The team will develop plans for programming to provide accessible outdoor recreation opportunities for elementary and secondary school-aged children and youth.

Supervisor: Andy Black, Executive Director

“The mission of the Lake Nixon Outdoor Center is to share this beautiful place with our community by providing opportunities for education, recreation, and sanctuary. We are very excited to work with Clinton School students this year to identify ways and build partnerships for doing just that. It seems that almost every week I hear from someone who visits Lake Nixon that this place is a ‘hidden gem’ — a scenic, expansive outdoor setting just minutes from the heart of Arkansas’ population center. This partnership will help this gem of a place become a little less hidden as we work together to make the resources and opportunities here equitably available and accessible throughout the year with schools and other partner organizations in the area.” – Andy Black

Arkansas Teacher Corps

Team Members: Alyssa Jones (Benton, Ark.), Caleb Parker (Carlisle, Ark.), Katlee Taylor-Freasier (Little Rock, Ark.)

Project Description: Students will compile briefs on each priority school district and draft the Arkansas Rural School Grow-Your-Own Playbook with recommendations regarding rural teacher recruitment and retention efforts. Recommendations will inform the Arkansas Teacher Corps’ recruitment and retention efforts moving forward.

Supervisor: Brandon Lucius, Executive Director, Arkansas Teacher Corps

“The Arkansas Teacher Corps (ATC) is a University of Arkansas program that partners with school districts to recruit, train, license, and support committed Arkansans as empowered teachers facilitating excellent, equitable education every day. While region- and content-specific teacher shortages have been a challenge for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically exacerbated entrenched systemic inequities across the state that make it even harder for rural and low-income school districts to recruit and retain high-quality educators. As Arkansas moves to implement a greater focus on “grow your own” teacher preparation, we hope our team of Clinton School practicum students can help ATC to better understand the specific challenges our partner schools currently face in recruiting and retaining novice teachers. Not only will this inform ATC’s work moving forward, but school districts will also benefit from a summary of best practices that can be used to improve their own recruitment and retention efforts in the future.” – Brandon Lucius

UAMS Center of Health Literacy

Team Members: Katie George (Pittsfield, Maine), Caleb Cox (North Little Rock, Ark.), Ibrahim Kirindiro (Kasese, Uganda)

Project Description: Students will produce a summary of the literature surrounding evidence for the inclusion of specific health literacy competencies; assess the current inclusion of evidence-based competencies in national and state K-12 health education frameworks; and identify and evaluate existing resources that would facilitate teaching of recommended competencies.

Supervisor: Alison Caballero, Associate Professor & Director for Center of Health Literacy

“Improving health literacy can advance individual and population health, which can in turn impact societal health costs. Prioritizing development of personal health literacy skills in K-12 education may also support equitable development of these skills and help minimize health disparities. We are thrilled to collaborate with Clinton School students on this health equity effort and look forward to combining our expertise to produce meaningful resources to share with educators in Arkansas and beyond.” – Alison Caballero

City of Little Rock

Team Members: Augustine Amankwaa (Nsoatre, Ghana), Arjo Mitra (Springfield, Mo.), Stefanie Vestal (North Haven, Conn./Washington, D.C.), Seth Wyatt (Cabot, Ark.)

Project Description: Students will examine how the City of Little Rock’s public spaces like community centers and neighborhood resource centers align with and meet the needs of the community. The project will evaluate current uses vs. intended uses of these spaces and provide recommendations to effectively utilize resources to meet the needs.

Supervisor: James Owen, Policy Supervisor

“Effective and responsive government starts with listening to the needs and desires of our residents. The City is excited to engage Clinton School students to make sure the opportunities available at our city spaces match the needs of our growing city. Especially coming out of the pandemic, we want to make sure we are providing the support – from broadband access to youth recreation – for our city to excel.” – Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.

Downtown Little Rock Partnership

Team Members: Claire Hollenbeck (Fort Smith, Ark.), Solomon Quarm (Kumasi, Ghana), Gabriela Wells (Pascagoula, Miss.)

Project Description: Students will work with the Downtown Little Rock Partnership to examine how it can revitalize Little Rock’s downtown urban core. The team will look at what other cities of similar size have done to transform their downtowns, and assess how to make similar changes in Little Rock.

Supervisor: Gabe Holmstrom, Executive Director

“We are excited to partner with the Clinton School Practicum project this year to work with the students directly in an area that reflects their school: Downtown Little Rock. It is our hope we will be able to have a better understanding of the current state of downtown and identify potential opportunities at the conclusion of this study. I have no doubt the fresh eyes and looks at our urban core will generate new ideas and ways to look at our city moving forward.” – Gabe Holmstrom



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *