Conway County

Excel by Eight in Conway County

Conway County kicked off their E8 initiative with Healthy Smiles, a Delta Dental-funded effort to get more children to the dentist before kindergarten by raising awareness about oral health for caregivers of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Healthy Smiles wraps up by fall 2022. Learn more about the project. 

The Conway County steering committee has identified strategies in other priority areas, such as child care quality and availability, child food security, and literacy. In order to successfully address these priority areas, the next effort will be to engage parents in the Excel by Eight initiative, as advocates and their child’s first teacher. By focusing on parent engagement, the steering committee believes that other E8 projects will have deeper and wider impact in the long run.

School districts in Conway County – Nemo Vista, South Conway County, and Wonderview – participated in a second round of the Early Development Instrument assessment during spring 2022. The EDI is a population measure of how young children are developing based on the five domains of early childhood development: physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills; and communication skills and general knowledge.


Located in the Arkansas River Valley

Major industries are manufacturing and transportation

Home to Petit Jean State Park, the first Arkansas State Park

Steering Committee


John Gibson, Conway County Community Foundation

Committee Members

Robbie Belew, Curricula Concepts

Kathy Gipson, Community Service, Inc.

Shandee Gordon, Wonderview School District

Shawn Halbrook, South Conway County School District

Lora Hendrix, South Conway County School District

Amber Holland, Community Service, Inc.

Princess Johnson, parent

Aida Kuettle, South Conway County School District

Stephanie Lipsmeyer, Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce

Michelle Mallett, Conway County Juvenile Probation and Arkansas Coalition for Juvenile Justice

Dr. Susan Okroglic, Community Service, Inc.

Kaila Parker, Parent

Bijoux Pighee, Choosing to Excel / Healthy Families America

Jamie Stacks, Wonderview School District

Karey Tapley, South Conway County School District

Logan Williams, Nemo Vista School District

Read more about E8 Communities

Independence County: Building Brains in Preschoolers One Conversation at a Time

Independence County: Building Brains in Preschoolers One Conversation at a Time

Preschools in Independence County have adopted innovative technology to support early brain development. LENA – short for Language ENvironment Analysis – is a professional development opportunity for early childhood educators that uses cloud-based software and a small, wearable device – often referred to as a “talk pedometer” – to measure and increase conversational turns that happen between a child and an adult caregiver.

Independence County hosts Excel by Eight fall 2022 Learning Community

Independence County hosts Excel by Eight fall 2022 Learning Community

For the first time, Excel by Eight hosted its semiannual Learning Community outside of Arkansas’s capital city, bringing more than 30 community leaders to Independence County in mid-October for local site visits and informative sessions. The two-day event took place in the cities of Batesville and Southside and focused on early care and education for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Jill Wilson, executive director of two child care centers in Mountain Home, and Garrett Dolan, senior manager of corporate social responsibility at Tyson Foods, served on a panel moderated by Roby Brock, editor-in-chief and host of Talk Business and Politics. The panelists discussed the challenges facing employers and child care providers in Arkansas, including quality of care, workforce, and affordability.