Pine Bluff’s Explore Academy Hosts Ribbon Cutting Celebration in honor of Award-Winning Program Launch

ELA 2-22-22

Pine Bluff, AR – February 22, 2022 – Pine Bluff, AR – February 22, 2022 – The Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative proudly hosted a Ribbon Cutting Celebration honoring the launch of their educational program, known as “Explore Academy” on Tuesday, February 22nd in Pine Bluff.

Explore Academy is an accelerated learning program that utilizes a hands-on, STEM-focused curriculum to reach students hoping to improve their educational and social-emotional performance. Focused on helping students make the critical transition from middle school to high school, Explore Academy allows students to learn and apply their course objectives while accelerating them towards their proper grade level. Together, students participate in Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Social Studies course work daily and Enrichment and Elective elements that will prepare them for future success in high school and beyond.

Currently, 45 7th and 8th-grade students are enrolled in the program, who enjoy the smaller class sizes, and hands-on lesson plans more than those taught in traditional classroom settings. During the well-attended event, local and state leaders had the opportunity to observe Academy classrooms as students participated in a variety of hands-on learning objectives.

Explore Academy implements the nationally-renowned curriculum of NOLA Education known as Star Academy (see: Star Academy is recognized as one of the most effective hands-on education programs in the country and a frequent recipient of the National Dropout Prevention Center’s Crystal Star Award for its exemplary success rates.

“We wanted to find a turnkey solution that would accelerate learning for children in an innovative way,” said Cathi Swan, Director of the Arkansas River Educational Service Cooperative. “NOLA Education truly gave us that option – this is a truly turnkey program – you just drop it right in. It’s furniture, classroom décor, hardware, software, learning platform, and the curriculum. It’s rich manipulatives that go with every single lesson. Plus, the training and the support at any time – we couldn’t be more impressed.”

Mr. Bradley Bateman of the Arkansas River Educational Service Cooperative serves as the Principal of Explore Academy, where he leads a team of five educators. These teachers include Ms. Ginny Cambliss (Science), Mr. Dylan Harris (Math), Ms. Cynthia Griffin (English Language Arts), Ms. Monya Lagrone (Social Studies), and Mr. Cary Shelton (Enrichment and Electives). Together, they serve students from Pine Bluff, Sheridan, Stuttgart, Watson Chapel, and White Hall school districts.

And the students? They’re enjoying the experience as well.

“My favorite day of the week is Monday because it’s when I get to go back to school,” said one student.

“This is way different than my old school – and I like everything about it. It’s more hands-on, the teachers have more time to help us if we’re struggling, and we’re learning more. I’m glad this opportunity was available to me – I recommend every student try it!” said another student.

As enrollment season for the 2022-2023 school year approaches, interested students and parents are encouraged to visit with their school’s counselor to learn more about Explore Academy’s programming and the enrollment application process.


About NOLA Education’s offering, Star Academy:

Star Academy is an education model designed to enhance the success of disengaged learners. The expert-built programming pairs hands-on learning experiences with social-emotionally-based teaching that allows many students to earn up to two grade-level promotions in just one year. The comprehensive program can be tailored to meet the specific needs of students by allowing the district to select up to eight courses from an offering of core courses, and elective courses in practical arts, life skills, technology, health-based instruction, and real-world career connections. For additional information, please visit www.

Star Academy is a service of Nola Education, LLC.


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