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Melissa L. Fink
Jones Elementary School
Springdale School District
Springdale, Arkansas
mfink@sdale.org

At Jones Elementary School, 97 percent of students come from low-income families and 85 percent speak English as their second language. When Melissa Fink arrived there as Assistant Principal in 2004, only 26 percent of students were considered proficient in literacy. Since then, Fink has transformed Jones Elementary into a model school, one of four in the nation recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for achieving exceptional academic growth. Fink's success is a result of her intense focus on instruction and her ability to provide essential resources for students and their families. By incorporating strategies such as Understanding by Design and Cognitively Guided Instruction, Fink ensures that students are able to grasp key concepts in their grade levels. In 2013, the literacy proficiency rate has spiked to 73 percent due to programs like the English Language Development Program, the Family Literacy Program, and the “Build a Library, Build a Life” initiative. Most notably, Fink opened the Jones Elementary Wellness Clinic, one of the first school-based health centers in the state. The Clinic provides essential services to students and their families including routine check-ups, immunizations, and counseling. Fink is the recipient of the “Above and Beyond” Award from the Arkansas Association of Elementary School Principals. She holds a B.S. in Education and an M.A. in Teaching from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.