Academy of Excellence adds excellent new staff, superintendent

Sunday, September 23, 2012
Wayne Carr

When Wayne Carr retired from public school last December, he didn't realize just how short his retirement would be.

Carr, who previously served as both elementary principal and superintendent at Eureka Springs High School, was quickly brought back out of mothballs to become the new superintendent for the Academy of Excellence, a preschool through 8th grade private school affiliated with the Faith Christian Family Church in Eureka Springs.

"Actually in six months I was rested, relaxed and ready to go," said Carr. "In terms of past experience, there's certainly less stress here. It's a smaller school and I would say has a strong focus -- it comes from a Christian perspective. But it's not a question of preference, for me. I enjoyed where I was at. I enjoy working with kids and teachers. I'm a kid at heart myself."

Gloria Taff, middle school teacher and one of the founders of the Academy in 1993, said parents and teachers alike were excited to have Carr on board. "I think it's marvelous to have someone at the helm with lots of expertise and experience," she said.

The school, which began with nine preschool children three days a week 19 years ago, has now grown to preschool through 8th grade and has a student body of over 70.

"We've been up to 8th grade since 2002," she said, "with no solid plans to add more grades at this time. We know taking on high school would be a big step. We do have some parental interest in our adding high school, and we've looked at some different options. We were looking at that before Mr. Carr came, and certainly it might be easier with him here. We're obviously not going to do it this year. It's a big step we may be willing to do in the near future."

Taff outlined the Academy's motto: "Building good character and a solid academic foundation for future leaders," she said. "That's our goal and our direction. We feel we've been successful in doing that. We've had many students who've left and gone on to public schools to become class president, to succeed there. They've been ahead in so many different areas. Many have gone on to do great in college."

In addition to her other duties, Taff also drives a van to and from Berryville every day for students from there and points further east. "It works very well for parents from Berryville and Green Forest," she said.

The Academy has also added a new pre-school director, Teresa Stokes. Originally from near Jackson, Miss., Stokes and her husband recently moved to Eureka Springs.

"We've always wanted to live in the area," Stokes said with a marked Southern drawl. "I worked with preschoolers for six years back there, and so I was happy and excited to get the job here. Right now my husband is transporting a log cabin he built with timber from our property down there. We're staying with relatives until we get it built here."

As preschool director, Stokes works with 3-4 year olds and maintains their immunization records and other necessary documentation. "I love my job," she said. "This is a wonderful place."

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