February 24, 2010 Edition

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Harris new co-op director

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

Donna Harris was named the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative director in January. She had served as the interim director since May of 2009. Prior to this Harris was the assistant director a position she had held for the past 10 years.

Harris began working with the education cooperative in 1984 and is the only original staff member still employed there.

She has had many jobs during her years with the co-op, including: secretary/bookkeeper, administering grants and Teacher Center coordinator, a job she continues to fill today though the co-op is hoping to hire someone for that position this year.

The co-op served 26 school districts in 1984 when Harris first went to work there. Now it serves 14 school districts and will serve only 13 in the 2010-11 school year. The districts are located in Lawrence, Greene, Clay, Randolph, Jackson and Sharp counties. Harris said several of the schools were consolidated or eliminated over the years.

"Today the NEA Education Cooperative has 85 employees," Harris noted. "We added four new positions this year. Two of the positions were made possible through the stimulus funding and are working with our statewide program Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT)."

"We wrote a statewide $900,000 EETT grant, which was approved by the Arkansas Department of Education. The co-op will begin work in June with the other 14 cooperatives in the state, providing training for algebra 1 and geometry teachers in the development of lessons to deliver instruction via video, IPOD and Interwrite technology to students across the state," Harris said.

The NEA Cooperative is a statewide content provider for the ACT preparation program, which is provided through Distance Learning via Compressed Interactive Video (CIV) technology.

"Distance learning helps prepare high school students for the ACT. Graduates must achieve a grade point average of 2.5 or better or score at least a 19 on the ACT to qualify for scholarships through the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship program," she said. "In addition, students must have completed the Smart Core Curriculum as established by the Department of Education."

Harris added, "The cooperative is striving to assist our schools to embrace the evolving educational challenges of the 21st Century.

"We work with the Arkansas Department of Education with all state initiatives in support of our schools. Thanks to a strong and dedicated professional staff, the schools receive the support they need."

Harris is a Lawrence County native now living in Saffell. She is the wife of the late Noel Harris Jr. of Strawberry who was killed in 1970 while serving as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. She has a daughter, Lisa Harris McNeely, and husband Robert of Benton and two grandchildren, Austin, nine and Peyton, four.

Harris said many people are familiar with the co-op through the various community functions that take place there. Keeping the community informed about the contributions the co-op makes both economically and in services is important to the agency.

"The community is always invited to visit the facility and see what services are available," Harris said.

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