Lake Hamilton High School Wins 2024 Pacesetter School Award
School honored for establishing processes to support career pathways and a culture of continuous improvement


Nashville, TN – Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy, Arkansas, is the winner of a 2024 Gene Bottoms Pacesetter School Award from the Southern Regional Education Board.

Lake Hamilton was honored July 9 at SREB’s Making Schools Work Conference in Nashville.

Pacesetter Awards recognize schools that are implementing one of SREB’s Making Schools Work school improvement frameworks and are achieving success in meeting bold goals related to graduation rates, readiness for college and careers, and credential attainment.

Lake Hamilton implements SREB’s school improvement design for high schools. In 2021, Principal Donald Westerman coordinated a comprehensive career pathways review using SREB’s Unpacking Workshop to break down data with school staff and partners from postsecondary institutions, business and industry in the greater Hot Springs, Arkansas community.

Lake Hamilton teachers and staff identified six focus areas to address:

  • engaging business and industry partners
  • establishing career pathways
  • increasing the number of students who complete a career pathway
  • increasing the number of students earning an industry recognized credential
  • creating a continuum of work-based learning opportunities for students
  • improving student engagement by training teachers in project-based learning

Lake Hamilton has seen steady gains in certifications and career pathways program completions. The number of students who earned industry recognized credentials, for instance, has increased significantly from 191 students in the 2020-21 school year to 741 students in the 2022-23 school year.

SREB’s Making Schools Work Conference is held annually and provides educators with opportunities to participate in professional development, network with colleagues from across the country and build school and district leadership capacity.

Contact: Janita Poe, SREB News Manager, at or 404-879-5516, ext. 216

The Southern Regional Education Board works with states, districts and schools to improve education at every level, from early childhood through doctoral education and the workforce. An interstate compact and a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region.