While Local Control is Key, LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore Reaches Out

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 12:00 am   2 min read

Michael Poore  
Superintendent of the Little Rock School District (Karen E. Segrave)

Michael Poore, born in Kansas and raised in Colorado, has been the Little Rock school superintendent since June 2016, appointed by Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key. Before coming to Little Rock, Poore headed the Bentonville School District, a post he took in 2011. He also has served as deputy superintendent in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He received his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in 1984 and a master’s degree from the University of Colorado in 1995.

The state of Arkansas took over operation of the Little Rock School District in January 2015 after six of the district’s 48 schools were determined to be in academic distress.

When do you anticipate the Little Rock School District returning to regular control by an elected school board?
We’re two and half years into state control of the district. The state, the district and the community have put in a tremendous amount of work to impact student achievement. We have $27 million in volunteer hours; we have implemented new systems for assessment, as well as introduced tools that create increased engagement with stakeholders. Our staff has received extensive training on the science of reading, become adept at differentiating lesson plans and has worked in teams to create classrooms with enhanced student engagement.

Bottom line: We may not get local control back for two more years. That decision is out of our hands, but our ability to impact achievement is something we do control. We are a stronger academic environment than when state control occurred in January 2015, and it remains my commitment to improve our delivery this coming school year.


Ideally, a public education should educate children for the world they live in, but are there other purposes of public education and if so, what are they?
One of the biggest and most important purposes of public education is to develop confident and caring individuals. The Little Rock School District meets this target in hundreds of ways each and every day. This is a tribute to our students, our staff and our supportive community.


Is there a role for businesspeople in the public schools, and if so, what is it?
Absolutely! We have business and community leaders involved in all levels of our pre-K-12 delivery. I am especially pleased with new opportunities such as our Excel Career Development program, our partnerships with businesses that support middle school project-based learning, and the tremendous support we have received from the business community on financial literacy through our One District One Book reading initiative, to name just a few.


What was your biggest career mistake and what did you learn from it?
My biggest mistake probably happened early in my professional career. I was often afraid to reach out for support because I thought it would represent that I was weak or not prepared. That led to some very long, isolated hours trying to figure out a solution or delivery that could have been easily solved by my simply reaching out to be more collaborative. I have since learned that reaching out is a sign of strength, rather than a weakness. The “reach-out” approach has led to a network approach that supports me daily.

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