Justin C. Swope

Lee Elementary School
Springdale Public Schools
Springdale, Arkansas

Justin Swope has spent the last nine of his 12 years of principalship guiding the turnaround success of Lee Elementary School (LES), a high-poverty K-5 school with high racial and ethnic diversity and a large immigrant population. Swope’s efforts have led to sustained achievement gains across three years in MAP and ACT Aspire assessments and have earned LES the distinction of being among the top in the state for growth in 2018 (top 5 percent) and 2019 (top 10 percent). In 2019, Arkansas recognized LES as a “Beating the Odds” school for high growth among the highest-poverty schools in the region. Swope credits this success to building a collaborative professional culture that harnesses the expertise of all stakeholders to create sustainable change. To address the need for cultural change, Swope stewarded a collective, research-based assessment process to identify key targets and metrics for improvement. A firm believer in distributed leadership, Swope built a multi-stakeholder leadership team to guide principal decision making on everything from curriculum and family engagement to fiscal management and even seeks out the leadership of stakeholders whose insights are traditionally overlooked, such as the Instructional Assistant team, with whom meets quarterly. Swope holds an Ed.S. in Leadership and an M.Ed. in Administration from the University of Arkansas and an B.S.E. in Elementary Education from the University of Central Arkansas.