Magnolia School District


 The Simmons First Foundation recently awarded two grants to campuses of the Magnolia School District.  The first grant was in the amount of $25,000 and was awarded to the Kindergarten Center at East Side to update their kindergarten playground. Judy Barham, counselor at the Kindergarten Center, wrote the proposal which is specifically for the consideration of inclusive playground equipment and shade structures. Equipment was selected based upon its ability to offer engagement and encourage play among all students-with and without disabilities.

Simmons First Foundation awarded the second grant to Jessica Talley and Katy Nix, teachers at East Side Elementary and Magnolia High School.  The $3,948 grant will be used to support the Coding Panthers on both the MHS and East Side campuses.

 The grant funding will be used to purchase Sphero Mini and Sphero indi classroom robot packs to be shared between the Magnolia High School and East Side Elementary School. After classes have worked coding these robots, a Family Code Night will be planned to showcase student coding skills and allow family members to learn to maneuver the bots through constructed obstacle courses. High school students will serve as the “experts” and will help guide the elementary students through challenges as well as prepare and present new challenges for the elementary students to attempt.  

 The planned timeline for future robot activities includes

  • Fall/Winter 2022 - Students on both campuses will learn about these robots and how to specifically code them. Mrs. Nix’s students will also create lessons and courses that can be shared with Mrs. Talley’s lab classes.  
  • January-February 2023 - Planning will begin with high school students’ input on activities and how to host a spring Family Code Night.  
  • Spring 2023-Family Code Night (TBA) 

With these funds, both male and female MHS and EES students will be given more opportunities for handling robots and learning to code. High school students will have coding lunches with Mrs. Nix, and the K-2 elementary students will use them in technology lab activity.   
The Simmons First Foundation was established in 2014 to help give back to the communities that have been so vital to our continuing growth and success. Former Simmons CEO Tommy May leads the foundation and stewards its mission to improve the lives of children through programs that enhance education and healthcare. Additionally, the foundation has established an endowment to support environmental & conservation efforts.

For more information about partnering with Simmons Bank or the Simmons First Foundation for community development or sponsorship opportunities, please contact

About Simmons First Foundation

Led by former Simmons Bank CEO Tommy May, the Simmons First Foundation supports youth access to health care and education, while aiding low-to-moderate-income families throughout the bank’s six-state footprint. The foundation also supports “Go Forward Pine Bluff,” a program focused on economic development and quality of life for Simmons’ hometown community. Most recently, the foundation established a $3 million endowment to aid environmental conservation and sustainability projects. Since 2014, Simmons First Foundation has contributed approximately $3.1 million to the communities we serve. 

L to R: 

Felisha Aaron – Business Development Officer (Simmons Bank), Nevi Tell (MHS senior), Samantha Robertson – Business Development Officer (Simmons Bank), Jessica Aryee (MHS principal), Katy Nix (MHS media specialist), Jessica Talley (East Side Computer Lab), Whitteni Lindsey (East Side assistant principal), Shannon Morgan – Grant Coordinator (Simmons First Foundation), and Kasyn Sanders (MHS senior).

L to R: Samantha Robertson – Business Development Officer (Simmons Bank), Shannon Morgan – Grant Coordinator (Simmons First Foundation), Deborah Taylor (East Side assistant principal), Judy Barham (kindergarten counselor), Jill Rader (East Side principal), and Felisha Aaron – Business Development Officer (Simmons Bank)

KC Students L to R: Kacie Robinson, Olivia Stuart, Waleed Alroobi, Ali Lindsey