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Heckman, Yager both seek Zone 1 School Board seat

by Annette Beard | May 2, 2023 at 4:45 p.m.

Registered voters living in Zone 1 of the Pea Ridge School District will have an opportunity to select who they want to represent them from now through Tuesday, May 9. Early voting is available until Monday, May 8.

Elections will be Tuesday, May 9.

Two men -- Adam Yager and Ryan Heckman -- are seeking one of the five Pea Ridge School Board seats.

Pea Ridge School District was divided into zones last year due to population growth. The board members received various lengths of term so one seat is open every year and all will ultimately be for five-year terms.

Yager was elected last year and has served one year.

Heckman served on the School Board from 2015 to 2020.


Yager is a senior manager for liability claims for Walmart Claims Services.

He said he is running because: "I have invested countless hours into various youth programs over the past 13 plus years in Pea Ridge and the past year serving on our School Board, and want to continue to be an advocate for all our kids, our teachers and every employee at Pea Ridge schools."

He said that right after being elected, he challenged the administration to have an SRO at every campus.

"After several discussions and feedback, and after our administration partnered with new leadership at the city, we were recently able to approve a proposal for an SRO at every school campus next year. The safety of our kids and our teachers is paramount.

"I also have been very active in communicating with our local state legislators on utilizing surplus funding to increase teacher/staff salaries to retain and hire new talent. I want to keep as many of our experienced and talented teachers in our schools. With the passing of recent legislation, I am optimistic that we can start making this wish come to fruition soon. I anticipate there being challenges statewide and within our district, but I am extremely confident we will work through them to ensure the best result for our school personnel.

Yager said he does not have an agenda and "will never consider this position as partisan. The biggest item on my agenda is to ensure a safe and quality learning environment for our students and teachers. With the growth in our community we have faced our share of challenges in this area. I have been and will continue working with our administration, staff and community leaders to identify the issues our kids face, what we can do to prevent abusive behaviors from happening, and continue to utilize, develop, and improve the programs and resources available to our kids and families to prevent and resolve these issues.

"I also want to continue addressing the much needed improvements in teacher/employee compensation in our district for talent retention. In a challenging economic environment, we have had too many teachers leave the profession due to compensation.

Yager said: "I have developed and cherish countless relationships with parents in our community through our youth sports programs. Through those various roles, I established and developed working relationships with our various school admin, multiple athletic directors, dozens of coaches and teachers, and parents, etc. While serving on the School Board, I have continued to utilize and leverage those relationships to identify needs and work with our administration to implement necessary changes. I am hopeful my overall body of work through the years has earned the trust of many in our community that I have our children's and teachers best interests at heart."

Yager, a graduate of Bentonville High School, moved to the Pea Ridge area in 2010.

Yager and his wife Aimee, have three children -- Cole Brown. Paige Brown and Landon Yager.


"Previously I was in the board. In the last two elections ... I lost," Heckman said, explaining that he was encouraged in a sermon that people with purpose never give up. He said his purpose is to make sure "we maintain a conservative Christian presence on the Pea Ridge School Board in the face of an ever progressing world."

He said he applauds the district's decision to add school resource officers and said safety is paramount to him.

"I'm an advocate in giving parents back their voice... parents should be the primary voice in their students' lives."

"Being an engineer, I get to work with a lot of different people. I manage people, time, money. I feel like a board of director member is simply that -- being a good steward of the district's time, money, people.

"Also, I'm kind of right brained and use a lot of data and analytics in decisions," he said. "Sometimes we can get emotional responses to decisions but it's hard to argue with data. It's not emotional."

Heckman said he brings his experience in his career and skill set to the table. He said that having two daughters in the district also provides a different lens through which to look when considering curriculum, policy.

"The things we do in Pea Ridge are special -- PRMBS, pathways, special education program. Those have been unique. To me, that's great," he said, adding that Pea Ridge officials can help impact other districts in the state.

"A lot of times we focus on the kids, and we should. But, it's all the stake holders of the district. I also have a passion for teachers and administrators," Heckman said. "We need to understand the needs of the parents, teachers, administrators. If you take them for granted, the students are going to suffer. We need to make sure we have a culture which fosters teachers' career growth and development."

He said developing teachers is important and he doesn't want Pea Ridge to be a springboard for Bentonville and he wants to help teachers develop personally.

"For us to grow is inevitable. I want to maintain that smaller feel. It goes back to relationships and people frankly," Heckman said. "The relationships with the people, teachers, community is what keeps that feeling. "We're at 1,400 ... before we know it, we'll be at 3,000. What we have to do is make sure we have the vision for what that looks like. It's not just the assets ‚ the buildings, the structure of the curriculum, but the people -- teachers and administrators. The relationship that parents and kids have with he district, the teachers, can help keep the small town feel."

An engineering manager with Clorox, where he has been employed for more than 20 years, Heckman and his wife, Betsy, have two daughters, Laney and Bella.

A native of the St. Joseph, Mo., area, Heckman graduated from Mid-Buchanan High School and then UMR, now known as Missouri S&T for college, from whence he earned a bachelor in Engineering Management (IE).

The Heckmans moved to Pea Ridge from Rogers almost 19 years ago. They have attended Pea Ridge First Baptist Church for the past 15 years and he has served in various roles and on various committees.

Print Headline: Heckman, Yager seek Zone 1 seat


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