Helen Tyson Middle School

Helen Tyson Middle School is located in Springdale, Arkansas, and serves approximately 600 students in grades 6 and 7. It is part of Washington County, which ranks third among the top 10 fastest growing Latino counties in the U.S. As is the case with several districts across the South, Springdale school leaders are struggling to adapt to the changes caused by a Latino student population that grew exponentially in the course of a decade. Specifically, in 1995, the school's enrollment was 6 percent Latino. In 2006, that number had increased to 43 percent. The growth is expected to continue as the local poultry and meat processing industries draw greater numbers of Mexican immigrants.

The rapid influx of Latino immigrants into Arkansas' Washington and Benton Counties has created a number of challenges for the area schools—chief among these is the task of reaching out and integrating Latino families into the school community. According to The New Latino South and the Challenge to Public Education, a recent report by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, the dearth of Latino parent outreach programs in Arkansas is not the result of educators being unwilling to reach out. Rather, it results from the fact that Arkansas educators urgently need models of how schools can collaborate with families in emerging immigrant communities.

The leaders at Helen Tyson Middle School committed themselves to developing a goal-driven outreach program with guidance from the PALMS tools. With generous funding from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, PALMS documented the school's efforts.

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