Jefferson County

Excel by Eight in Jefferson County

Jefferson County, E8’s newest member community, is led by Cathi Swan at the Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative. The steering committee has been formalized and includes representatives from K-12 education, health, home visiting, business, philanthropy, and higher education.

In 2023, the local steering committee will launch the research phase of the E8 process, gathering community input on priority areas by hosting data walk events and talking with parents, educators, service providers, and other stakeholders who work on behalf of families with children ages 0-8.

Data walks are gallery-style presentations of statistics related to boxes on the E8 resource grid. Excel by Eight presents initial data to participants and asks them to react. This helps us better understand where children are excelling and where we may need to shore up local resources.


East-central Arkansas, bisected by the Arkansas River

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Southeast Arkansas College

Leading producer of cotton, soybeans, rice, poultry, and timber

Trade, entertainment, recreation, and health care center for Southeast Arkansas

Steering Committee


Cathi Swan, Chair, Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative

Committee Members

Peter Austin, Jefferson Regional Medical Center

Jennifer Barbaree, Pine Bluff School District

Dr. Steven Bloomberg, Southeast Arkansas College

Dr. Kimberly Davis, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Jason Duren, United Way of Southeast Arkansas

Sherri James, Southeast Arkansas Behavioral Healthcare System

Angela Lopez, Arkansas Department of Human Services

Dr. Sarper Turker, Arkansas Lighthouse Charter Schools

Chad Pitillo, Simmons Bank

Allison Thompson, Jefferson County Alliance

Dr. Gary Williams, White Hall School District

Tom Wilson, Watson Chapel School District

Read more about E8 Communities

Excel by Eight hosts Spring 2023 Learning Community

Excel by Eight hosts Spring 2023 Learning Community

Excel by Eight hosted its semiannual Learning Community at the end of April, bringing together more than 50 people from its six communities to share network connections, celebrate accomplishments, and discuss resources that can move their local community development plans forward and help children thrive.

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.