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Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 7:12 p.m.

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Paragould principal hired at Rose Bud

By Tammy Keith

This article was published February 11, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

— Luke Lovins, the newly hired superintendent of the Rose Bud School District, said he comes “somewhat from a family of schoolteachers.”

The 38-year-old Lovins, now principal at Paragould High School in northeast Arkansas, gave a rundown: His mother is a retired business teacher; his younger brother is a teacher and coach at rival Greene County Tech in Paragould; his older brother is working on his doctorate and teaches at the University of Arizona in Tucson; an aunt was a teacher. And his father is a pastor. “What more powerful of a teacher could you be than a pastor?” Lovins asked.

The Rose Bud School Board voted unanimously Feb. 1 to offer the job to Lovins. He will start July 1, and his salary is approximately $95,000, Board President Wade Weatherley said.

Rose Bud Superintendent Chris Nail was hired in December as superintendent of the Beebe School District.

Lovins was one of 34 applicants for the Rose Bud position.

He has been in education for 13 years. He was born in Blytheville, but his family moved several times when his father took pastor positions at churches in various cities, including Junction City, Louisiana, the twin city of Junction City, Arkansas.

“You could go across the street and be in Arkansas,” Lovins said. “I used to tell people I rode my bike from Louisiana to Arkansas when I was about 10 years old,” he said.

His parents, the Rev. Ron and Pattie Lovins, now live in Marked Tree, where his father is pastor at Grace Baptist Church.

Luke Lovins earned his bachelor’s, master’s and specialist’s degrees from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and is a proud alumnus.

“I’ve got my Red Wolf pullover on right now,” he said during a telephone interview.

He taught physical education, health and history from 2005-2009 at Marked Tree High School. In 2009, he took a job in the Paragould School District teaching civics and economics.

He was assistant high school principal for one year before being promoted to high school principal two years ago.

“I was at a point in my career — we’ve got really good leadership here in the Paragould School District — I’ve been able to learn a lot,” he said. “I learned a lot about the things you can do at the district level that are very meaningful.”

He said Debbie Smith, superintendent of the Paragould School District, “has been a great mentor.”

“She is one of the main reasons why I decided to try to move into the district level; she does a fantastic job,” he said.

Smith said she has enjoyed her working relationship with Lovins.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with him the past few years,” she said. “I believe Rose Bud is getting a very valuable asset. He will be a tremendous asset to their district and to their community.

“He has proven himself to be an excellent leader, he is a person of integrity, and I just believe the Rose Bud community is going to be very, very pleased with their new district leadership.”

Lovins said he was ready to take the next step, and Rose Bud seemed to fit.

“I feel like they’ve got a really good district; they’re in really good shape. They’ve done good things recently. They’ve done a lot of facilities work; they’ve renovated some facilities on campus. In technology, they bought some devices. They’re in the process of becoming a one-to-one district,” he said, where every student will have a laptop. “They want to continue to take steps forward and be able to impact the community through the school.”

He said his educational philosophy is to give people freedom.

“I feel like you need to hire good people, give them access to quality training and then just get out of their way and let them do a good job,” Lovins said. “That’s been my experience. I don’t think the district level will be any different. I think Rose Bud is full of quality people, and if someone retires or moves on, if you hire quality … you’re going to get good results.”

Weatherley said he believes Lovins is the perfect choice among the many good applicants.

“We wanted a superintendent who’s going in the same direction we’ve been going in the past few years,” Weatherley

said. “He had the experience and the personality that we were really looking for — outgoing, motivated, a go-getter.”

Lovins said he plans to look for a home in Rose Bud. He and his wife, Amanda, an MRI and patient-care tech, have two sons, Henry, who will be 3 in April; and Eli, who will be 1 in May.

Weatherley said that in the meantime, Lovins will work with Nail “until everything meshes.”

“I think [Rose Bud School District leaders] know where they want to go in the future,” Lovins said, “and I’m excited to be part of that.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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