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Dion J. Stevens
Southside Middle School
Southside School District
Batesville, Arkansas

According to Roetta Tucker, Literacy Teacher at Southside Middle School (SMS), Principal Dion Stevens “has all the necessary attributes” to be a successful leader. “People follow him,” says Tucker, “and why wouldn't they?” During his six years as principal, Stevens has been able to pull SMS out of its four-year “Improvement” status and into “Achievement.” His accomplishments can be attributed to his impressive project management skills and consistent positive attitude, among numerous other qualities. Stevens accomplished what would be a challenging task for any administrator: making a smooth transition from a fifth through eighth grade school to a fourth through sixth grade school. He also developed a Response to Intervention (RTI) program with additional instructional support, expanded curricular options, mentors, and a summer Book Nook program. Furthermore, he encourages students to take control of their projects by conducting student-led conferences, tracking their own test scores, and leading community outreach efforts. Stevens understands the importance of having fun and requires his staff not only to plan the achievement of their goals, but the celebration of them, as well. He is the emcee for all instructional games and knows “precisely how many rolls of duct tape it takes to hold [him] to the wall for at least one minute.” Stevens holds a B.S., an M.S.E., and a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University.