The continued success of any region hinges upon having high-quality educational institutions. From Pre-K to doctorate programs, the greater Fort Smith area is home to thriving schools dedicated to teaching the next generation of leaders and workers. Top-notch private, parochial, and public options are available, giving families choices when it comes to their children’s future.
Several of the area’s public school districts are recognized as leaders in the state for STEM education, college and career readiness, student activities, and fine arts offerings. Many also boast higher than average test scores and graduation rates compared to other schools throughout the state. The Greenwood School District was ranked #4 on Niche’s “2017 Best School Districts in Arkansas” list, and was voted as the #1 “Best Place to Teach,” and the #2 “Safest District in Arkansas.” Fort Smith Public Schools is home to a wealth of title-winning teams and groups. In recent years, honors have included the Southside High School Band being named National Band of the Year, and Northside High School’s Grizzly Basketball Team capturing the 2017 State 7A Basketball Championship. In Van Buren, students can graduate high school with an associate’s degree or technical certification in hand, thanks to partnerships with regional universities. The District offers many concurrent course credit options, at no cost, giving students a chance to save time and money, while working toward a career goal. Alma School District has been recognized for its marketing curriculum and business programs, which includes operation of an on-site merchandise store, and representation at the International DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) Conference. The District was the first to have a comprehensive five-year marketing program of study in Arkansas, and one of the first in the United States.
Learn more about these districts and other progressive public schools in our region by clicking the links below.
*Ozark Public Schools also serves Altus
Virtual Learning and Charter Schools
Students in search of more flexible learning environments can benefit from virtual education options. The Van Buren School District was the first in Arkansas approved to offer a virtual learning academy for grades K-12. Its charter school, River Valley Virtual Academy, allows students to work at their own pace through online instruction. Set to launch in August 2017, the academy will help target demographics that VBSD feels could benefit most from a virtual-based curriculum, including local homeschool families, homebound students, accelerated learners, and at-risk students who may struggle in a typical learning environment.
The Future School of Fort Smith, which opened in Fall 2016, is another charter option. Open to grades 10-12, the tuition free, charter institution employs a student-centered model designed to engage students from all backgrounds.
Higher ed options also abound. The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, Arkansas Tech University – Ozark, and Carl Albert University are among the major two and four-year institutions located within the region. These schools work cooperatively with local business and civic leaders to offer programs which produce skilled workers suited to meet the needs of local companies and organizations nationwide. Both UAFS and ATU are recognized as some of the most cost-effective university options in the state and country. Their competitive tuition rates rank them as #34 and #27 respectively on the BestColleges.com “Lowest Out-of-State Tuition” List for 2016. CollegeCalc.com also ranks UAFS as the most affordable university, for in-state tuition, in the state of Arkansas.
Strong relationships among the education and business communities also foster innovation and new degree plans to meet emerging demands. Higher ed organizations also work with area high schools to provide opportunities for younger students which help put them on the path to Associate or Bachelor degrees, or technical certifications. These include WATC (Western Arkansas Technical Center) online courses, and several concurrent credit options.
A number of graduate level opportunities are also available to students seeking to earn their Master’s degree or higher. Many, including a John Brown University and Webster’s University campus, are located in Fort Smith, with other institutions in the surrounding area also offering a variety of graduate plans.
Arkansas College for Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM)
The recent opening of the Arkansas College for Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) is evidence that the educational scene in the Fort Smith Region is flourishing and that state leaders recognize the opportunities and potential that exist in the area. ARCOM’s mission “is to educate and train compassionate osteopathic physicians, skilled in the science of patient-centered osteopathic medical care, dedicated to the ethical and social principles of osteopathic profession, committed to lifelong learning, and focused on service to the underserved.” ARCOM plans to welcome its inaugural class in summer 2017. Graduates will receive the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.