Governor’s School Transitioning to Online for 2020

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke to the 40th Arkansas Governor's School on July 30, 2019, at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Arkansas Tech University and the Arkansas Department of Education have collaborated to develop a plan that will allow the 41st Arkansas Governor’s School (AGS) to be conducted in a virtual learning environment this summer.

Dr. Robin Lasey, co-director for AGS at Arkansas Tech, reports that a minimum of 300 rising high school seniors from Arkansas have committed to participate in the program July 5-Aug. 1.

The four-week program is typically conducted in a residential, face-to-face environment. This was scheduled to be the second consecutive summer that ATU hosted AGS at its Russellville campus, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced organizers to migrate the summer 2020 experience online. It will be the first virtual AGS in the program’s history.

“I had so hoped that we could all meet in person and share the magic of living and learning together,” said Dr. Jeff Woods, co-director for AGS at Arkansas Tech. “However, we still have the opportunity to build a community, develop lifelong friendships and hold the most deeply meaningful session of AGS ever. It will be AGS in its basic form and structure, but this session will be unique in the 40-year history of the program. This AGS class has the chance to demonstrate the power of perseverance in the face of adversity. It will be the class that proves critical thinking, creativity and the love of learning transcend social distance. It will be the class that uses the tools it has to overcome the problems laid before it. It will be the class made up of people who went above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of their classmates, their communities and the world they live in.”

AGS 2020 students will be enrolled in four classes, including one that focuses on the student’s area of specialization: visual arts, choral music, instrumental music, drama, English/language arts, mathematics, natural science, social science or cybersecurity.

Arkansas Governor’s School students will also study the nature of knowledge, themselves and their connection to the community around them and a central course designed to bind the members of the cohort together.

“Meeting new people and developing community is at the heart of the Governor’s School experience,” said Woods. “There will be ample opportunities for AGS participants to meet and interact with one another utilizing web conferencing and other platforms. COVID-19 has separated us by physical distance, but it cannot destroy our shared love of learning. We will not let it take away the special magic in people’s lives that Arkansas Governor’s School provides every year.”

The Arkansas Department of Education Gifted and Talented Programs administrator supervises Arkansas Governor’s School with assistance from an advisory council appointed by the governor.

The Arkansas Board of Education selected ATU as the 2019-21 host site for Arkansas Governor’s School during its September 2018 meeting.