Patricia Athey

J.B. Hunt Elementary School
Springdale, Arkansas

Best Practices

1) When I came to J.B. Hunt Elementary in 2017, there were not many systems in place. The system I am most proud of developing is our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (M.T.S.S.). I personally have a heart for struggling students, both academically and behaviorally. As a building leader, I wanted teachers to have the opportunity to collaborate with educators from different disciples and receive the support they need in order to positively impact student growth. This intention evolved into my M.T.S.S. team, currently comprised of fourteen members:

  • Assistant Principal
  • Principal
  • School Counselor
  • Special Education Resource Teacher
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Dyslexia Specialist
  • Instructional Facilitator
  • Academic Support Interventionist
  • ESL Instructional Facilitator
  • Social & Emotional Interventionist
  • School Psychology Specialist
  • Special Education Instructional Specialist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Licensed Therapist

My M.T.S.S. team meets weekly to review school-wide student data and visit with teachers who have individual student concerns. Teachers utilize a referral form I created through google forms to initiate their first meeting and the collection of specific components for the student’s M.T.S.S. data folder. Tier II and Tier Ill interventions are developed during the meeting and data is taken over a span of time to monitor progress. All teachers have access to a Tier Ill intervention room with seven interventionists that work with students in six week cycles. Additional meetings are scheduled and interventions are revised as needed. My M.T.S.S. team can also request further screenings and evaluations. Due to the hard work and efficiency of my M.T.S.S. team, I can proudly say that J.B. Hunt Elementary had a 100% qualifying rate of all special education referrals for the 2021-2022 school year. My team also had the honor of presenting my M.T.S.S. system to the Springdale School Board and District Superintendents last Spring.

2) Another need I immediately identified at J.B. Hunt Elementary in 2017 was the lack of school-based therapy to meet the social and emotional needs of Due to my background in school counseling, I have seen the benefits of providing students integrated mental health treatment in the school setting. Students that receive therapy at school often have easy access to care, less interruption in learning, improved self-esteem, increased quality of everyday life and relationships, regulation of emotions, and increased self-awareness.

In 2017 I invited an outside agency into our building that provided a full time licensed therapist and full time Qualified Behavioral Health Provider (QBHP). I have cultivated a school culture at J.B. Hunt Elementary where mental health services are acceptable and barriers are addressed. Today Hunt has two full time licensed therapists and two full time Qualified Behavioral Health Providers (QBHP). The agency serves 15% of our student population and continually supports teachers in various capacities. For five years my building team has met every Monday morning to review student cases and ensure each student stays in compliance with Medicaid so services are not interrupted. The continuation of school-based therapy throughout the physical year is a barrier for any school. I challenged my team to develop a plan for the continuance of services during long-term academic breaks. JB Hunt Elementary now offers camps for all clients during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring, and Summer Breaks. This opportunity allows each student to continue services, as well as support parents during these challenging periods of time.