Paulette Bell, school librarian for grades nine to 12 at Dollarway High School, recently completed the year-long Arkansas Declaration of Learning program. The program is now accepting applications from other interested educators.

“The program provides participating educators with the opportunity to use historic art and objects to develop innovative lesson plans for classroom learning and civic engagement projects,” according to a news release.

Arkansas school librarians and teachers of art, English language arts, and social studies in grades 7 to 12 are encouraged to apply for the Arkansas Declaration of Learning program. Applications are open until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.

Dollarway students benefited from the program, officials said.

“Our students absolutely loved object-based learning and the civic engagement part of the lesson plan,” Bell said in the release. “They were asking when and what our next lesson [would be].”

Arkansas is the first state to participate in the program.

“Over the last three years, more than 6,000 Arkansas students have participated in classroom lessons and civic engagement projects developed through the program,” according to the release.

The Declaration of Learning program was formed in 2013 as part of an inter-agency educational initiative that began when representatives from 12 national organizations committed to working with state and local partners to create learning tools for educators and students in middle and secondary education. The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms is leading the initiative nationally.

“This program is a great learning experience for teachers and students,” said Cassandra Barnett, the Arkansas Department of Education program advisor for school libraries. “Because of the hard work of these teachers, students have the opportunity to explore real world issues using art and historic objects.”

Applications are available at Details: Cassandra Barnett, ADE program advisor for school libraries, or 501-682-6576.