UAMS will back health academy at Hall High

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Little Rock School District’s Hall STEAM Magnet High School are pairing together to establish the UAMS Academy of Health Sciences at the Hall campus.

Jay Chesshir, president and chief executive officer of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, on Wednesday called the alliance a “transformational partnership” of two icon institutions that will give students the opportunity to see, feel, and understand the college and career pathways into their futures.

Chesshir made the comments as part of the latest in a series of announcements — the second one in this week alone — about school and business/industry partnerships being formed in the high schools of the Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pulaski County Special and Jacksonville/North Pulaski public school systems.

The growing number of business/industry-supported high school academies are collectively named the Academies of Central Arkansas.

The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and other chambers in Pulaski County initiated efforts as long ago as 2018 to bring the national Ford Next Generation Learning model to the Pulaski County area school districts.

The high school organizational model, which is now used in several dozen school systems including Louisville, Ky, and Nashville, Tenn., blends core academics with career and technical education as a way to make education relevant to participating students. A high school may have multiple academies. Within each overarching academy at the different schools are different courses of study or career pathways. Hall has an engineering academy — with a career pathway supported by Entergy Arkansas — in addition to the health science academy.

Shana Spriggs-Loring, Little Rock School District assistant superintendent, on Wednesday said the UAMS Academy for Health Sciences at Hall STEAM Magnet High “will create a world of opportunity” for students, providing them with hands-on access to medical education, research and mentorships.

STEAM in the Hall High name stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Spriggs-Loring noted reports of national shortages of health care workers. She said the academy will inspire, empower and prepare the next generation of health care providers.

Dr. Cam Patterson, UAMS chancellor and chief executive officer, called the alliance an effort to make sure that “as health care needs expand and evolve across Arkansas, that we have the right people available to provide the health services that are needed.”

He thanked an audience that included Hall High students who were wearing white laboratory coats and who are already taking courses such as biomedical sciences and human body systems, for their contributions.

As a result of the academy model, ninth-graders at Hall and at the other high schools take a seminar course and participate in career-exposure events to learn about different career options.

As sophomores, Hall students will have opportunities to tour UAMS facilities to personally see the different aspects of the health care industry.

Besides the opportunities to hear from guest speakers and participate in mock interviews, juniors and seniors will have opportunities to apply for potential internships, and earn concurrent college/high school credits and industry-recognized credentials.

Additionally, UAMS will provide Hall High with curriculum and credentialing advice, mentorship to both staff and students, and expertise on project-based learning embedded into coursework in both core academics and career classes.

The medical center will also provide representation to serve on a regional industry council and school advisory board as well as provide needed equipment and financial resources for implementation of the medical pathways of study.

The Academies of Central Arkansas is expected to take several years to fully develop. The Little Rock Regional Chamber is still actively recruiting business partners for all high schools. More information is available through the chamber or on the website: