Don Tyson School of Innovation
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Don Tyson School of Innovation

I was lucky to attend a high school that prepared me for life beyond graduation by walking to the beat of its own drum. When I learn of other schools taking a non-traditional approach, I get excited. Today’s sponsor, the Don Tyson School of Innovation is one of these schools. As always, thoughts are my own.

Lately people have a whole lot of opinions about Arkansas and let’s be honest, the word innovative probably isn’t one of them. Yet when it comes to The Natural State you’ll find world-class museums, a major university on the cutting-edge of technology and towns with monikers like Chickendale changing the way we think about secondary education. The fourth largest city in Arkansas, with a population of 70,000, Springdale hasn’t been known for much more than chicken. Until now.

Don Tyson School of Innovation

Springdale, Arkansas

It seems Springdale is experiencing a Renaissance of sorts. No longer just pasture and chicken houses, a new children’s hospital has broken ground. Craft breweries and hand-crafted coffee labs are bringing attention to the area, too. Through their generosity and vision, the Tyson family recognized a need to prepare area students with essential skills to enter Arkansas’ booming business industry.  At the intersection of collaboration and creativity now sits the 145,000-square foot Don Tyson School of Innovation (DTSOI).

Don Tyson School of Innovation

Completely free to students in Arkansas, DTSOI is a public school available to any 8th through 12th grade students in the state. With virtual, in-class and hybrid approaches, the curriculum is developed by teachers and state business leaders not only preparing students to succeed whether they stay in Arkansas or move across the globe following graduation, it allows them flexibility to partake in activities outside of the classroom while fulfilling their course requirements.

Their one-size doesn’t fit all approach is brilliant; whether a high-achiever or a struggling student, the kids work on engaging projects that excite them about learning. With the ability to work at their own pace, students aren’t pressured to perform or “keep up”.

Don Tyson School of Innovation
For the college-bound, students get a jump start. Associate Degree programs are available at a fraction of traditional tuition costs ($50 a credit). Students attend class four days a week and spend one day with a business leader experiencing real-world situations. Because they “get it” DTSOI also considers students who don’t feel college is for them. By providing certifications such as Business Management, Welding and Certified Nursing Assistant, whether it’s entering the work force or heading to college, all students are prepared for their next steps.

Three Years of Success

It was 2014 when the school opened with its first class of eighth graders. A few years later, they’re making good on their namesake as they continue to innovate the classroom. I think Don Tyson would be proud.

Don Tyson School of Innovation

Learn More

To learn more about the Don Tyson School of Innovation you can visit their website by clicking here. You can also access their Declaration of Intent to Enroll by clicking here.

*Photos provided by Don Tyson School of Innovation

5 Comments

  • Jenn

    This looks like a great school. I think all schools need to step up on being creative with teaching. It would be great to hear of more kids being able to learn hands on when it comes to more projects. This must has been a great experience.

  • Donah @ SJB

    I really believe, every kid should have some aid in developing their innovative skills. Nowadays, it is not okay to wait it to unfold, because of competition is already too high. This blog is truly helpful. Is a great guide for parents, wanting their children grow with the trend of innovation.

  • Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    It’s so important for schools to prioritize innovation in their every day curriculum. It sounds like this Don Tyson school of innovation has really found a wonderful balance between education and engagement. I wish this school was in my area because I would totally love to visit and maybe even send my kids here.

  • Becky Willis

    I have to totally agree that schools these days and probably for many years feel that all kids should be taught the same. Believe me when I say having 3 kids, one struggled terribly and the other 2 were high honor students. I think this set up would have been great for all 3 of my kids but my oldest I think would have been able to be more prepared for after high school.

    He went into the Marine Corp because to him college didn’t seem like a possibility but he came out 4 years later with nothing but the experience as far as working in the outside world (nothing to help him come out and get a job so to speak).

    I think this is a great idea and the students that attend are very blessed.