Independence County

Excel by Eight in Independence County

Independence County is one of the inaugural community partners for Excel by Eight. Led by the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, E8 joins other education-related initiatives in the area and incorporates goals that are inclusive of ages birth to eight as a foundation for improving outcomes for the whole child.

During an initial research phase, the community’s steering committee reached more than 200 people through a Data Walk project— raising awareness about E8 and gathering critical feedback about priorities across the resource grid. Community members and education and health sector representatives alike agreed on the top priorities for their county, which include: food security, substance use prevention, poverty alleviation, child care availability and kindergarten readiness.

The steering committee also used data from the Early Development Instrument (EDI) when setting priorities. 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. Kindergarten teachers in  school district completed the assessment for their students. Kindergarten teachers in all school districts in the county completed the assessment for their students.


North-central region of Arkansas, adjacent to the White River

Specialties in agriculture, healthcare, banking and retail

Lyon College

Implemented first community school model in the state

Steering Committee

Jennifer Douglas, Batesville School District

Amy Finster, White River Health System

Jessica Gilmer, Midland Preschool

Mary-Katherine Hardin, STARS Academy

Novella Humphrey, Southside School District

Kristie Jenkins, ARCare

Crystal Johnson, Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce

Abbi Limbaugh, Cedar Ridge School District

Whitney Massey, Baker Family Dentistry

Lisa Mcghee, Southside Schools

Bani Meharg, Midland Elementary

Dr. Lesley Milton, Tooth Be Told Pediatric Dentistry

Debbie Mize, Child Care Aware

Kimberly Poole, Southside School District

Jamie Rayford, Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce

Dr. Julia Roulier, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Michelle Puckett, Batesville Preschool

Mindy Shaw, University of Arkansas Community College – Batesville

Brooke Stevenson, Parent

Dr. Nikki Yonts, Lyon College

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