Shattering limitations to enable people touched by disability, serving their unique journey through advocacy, therapy, and education.
Be the premier service provider in NWA for people touched by disability.
Celebrating and connecting with people through shared achievements and experiences.
Everyone has an opportunity to thrive and succeed.
Fostering the power of teamwork to make decisions and take action.
Generating a network of partnerships and services that values active participation.
Crafting innovation and out of the box ideas that spark enthusiasm.
Sunshine School & Development Center has been serving NWA for over 65 years.
For so many years, having a disability meant being labeled or underestimated for the rest of your life. In 1958, the public education system didn't have a place for any children with special needs. In every space, individuals with disabilities would be categorized, written off, or separated. Thankfully, Sunshine School & Development Center was founded then as Benton County Sunshine School with a commitment to seeing potential in individuals, not problems. Since 1958, Sunshine School & Development Center has served thousands of people in the Northwest Arkansas community by offering a range of services in order to benefit every child and client that we serve. Because of our work, our families are better advocates, our students aren't limited by their labels, and adults with disabilities thrive in their communities. The inaugural class was held in the basement of the First United Methodist Church in Rogers, Arkansas and consisted of two children with disabilities, one with Down Syndrome and the other with a severe brain injury resulting in developmental delays. The families of these two children – the Clardys and the Brileys – needed a place for their own children to learn, so they started Sunshine School. Mrs. Clardy and Mrs. Briley were the teachers of their two children and by the end of the first month, six more children had joined the basement classroom. In 1961, through the support of friends and neighbors, a new building was built in Vaughn, AR. For 30 years, young people touched by disability went through the doors of the school in Vaughn and graduated with skills that would serve them throughout life. After multiple relocations to serve the growing class sizes and needs of the community, a new idea began to take shape. In 1991, the public school system finally began integrating children with developmental delays into classrooms. In response, Sunshine started to focus on programs which included Early Intervention, Community Support, and a Preschool Center. Sunshine's new programs catered to individuals of ALL ages with developmental disabilities and delays. Sunshine School continued to grow exponentially and soon outgrew its facilities. Once again, through the generosity and the care of the community, another facility was funded. In January 2007, the agency moved to the current 40,000 square foot facility on Woods Ln. in Rogers, where over 500 people a year are currently served. By 2011, attendance had tripled and three new classrooms had opened including advanced educational technology. To better reflect the diversity of the ages and the abilities of clients served now, the name of the organization was changed from Benton County Sunshine School to Sunshine School & Development Center in 2013 and the Mission, Vision, and Values were re-energized in 2022.
OUR ACCREDITATIONS & PARTNERSHIPS
Sunshine School & Development Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered as tax-exempt with the IRS.
We are a Better Beginning accredited child-care provider. Better Beginnings is Arkansas’ quality rating improvement system for child care, early education and school-age programs that have gone above and beyond the state minimum requirements. Better Beginnings connects Arkansas families with the information and care that helps children experience a safe, happy and healthy childhood.
We are partners with United Way of Northwest Arkansas.
2023-2024 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Board of Directors meets the fourth Thursday in February, April, June, August, October, and December.
Walmart Stores, Inc.
DR. BARRY ALLEN
DR. COLLIN SWAFFORD
Arkansas Children's Hospital
Henkel Consumer Brands
Walmart Stores, Inc.
Bentonville School District Special Education
First National Bank of NWA
SUNSHINE SCHOOL CEO
A Kansas native, Jarrod worked in Adult Development Services as the CFO for 7 years before moving to Arkansas in 2003. He graduated from Kansas Newman University with a BS in Finance, but he wants others to know that he is a Jayhawk at heart after spending his early college days at the University of Kansas. Jarrod spent the last 11 years in Product Development and Marketing before coming to Sunshine School as the Director of Finance and Accounting. He has served as our CEO since July 2020. He is a volunteer at heart and has enjoyed working with many nonprofits here in NWA. For the past decade, Jarrod has championed Sunshine School through volunteering, philanthropy efforts, and board service. Jarrod is proud to be part of the fantastic team at Sunshine School & Development Center and is amazed daily by the work we do. As a passionate advocate for children and adults with developmental disabilities, Jarrod works to serve many organizations in our community. Jarrod loves to spend his free time traveling - anywhere, any place, anytime. As he looks forward to the continued advancement of the mission of our organization, Jarrod keeps in mind a famous anonymous quote that speaks to his philosophy in leadership and teamwork - “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 479.636.3190 x118 email@example.com
DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES
Karyn is Northwest Arkansas born and raised, receiving her Bachelor's in Education from the University of Arkansas. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Education from Harding University. Working in early childhood education for more than 20 years, Karyn joined the Sunshine School team more than 14 years ago. During this time, Karyn has filled many roles such as Teacher (substitute, assistant, and lead), Early Childhood Development Supervisor, and Children’s Services Manager. In 2022, Karyn gained her current role as Director of Children’s Services. She also serves as a Committee Chairperson for Arkansas Developmental Disabilities Association (DDPA) for Early Intervention Day Treatment. Karyn has three children, two of whom graduated from Sunshine School. In her free time, Karyn likes to train and participate in triathlons, as well as volunteer to help triathletes with special needs participate in the sport. 479.636.3190 x 149
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
Susanne is a dedicated finance professional with a commitment to excellence and high ethical standards. Her strength lies in strategical thinking, organization and creation of better processes, systems, and controls. Before Coming to Sunshine School, Susanne worked for The Elizabeth Richardson Center for 5 years. She came from Walmart Corporate where Susanne worked for 8 years in the corporate office managing multiple teams and processes. She also was the Controller for Alternative Design in Siloam Springs, and Assistant Controller for America’s Carmart. Susanne served on the Board for the WMT ARG “PRIDE” that supports the LGBTQ community. She is a Graduate of WMT Leadership Foundation, Walton Institute and Dale Carnegie. She currently serves on the board of the Arkansas Developmental Disabilities Association (DDPA), representing the providers located in Northwest Arkansas. Susanne holds an MBA in Accounting, Finance and Banking and a bachelor’s degree in General Studies from Germany.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Susannah welcomes her opportunity to return to NW Arkansas to serve at the Sunshine School as Director of Development. Born in Texas, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Recreation and Event Management. She could call the hogs in her sleep! Her love for fundraising began at the U of A when she co-chaired the Up Till Dawn fundraising event for St. Jude’s Research Hospital, raising close to $300,000. That opportunity led to her selection for the Summer in the City program in Washington, DC, where she worked on the fundraising team for a Presidential Campaign in 2004 Susannah has spent the past 10 years with the Arkansas Pharmacists Association as Director of Membership and Meetings in Little Rock. For the last two years of that time, she focused on COVID-19 vaccine distribution and worked closely with the CDC at the national and state levels. While working at the APA, she also was in-charge of heading up a Capital Campaign for 3.5 million dollars for a new state-of-the-art building. She has been married 11 years and she and her husband, Tommy are fun loving parents to their rescue dog, Bailey. Susannah loves to travel, craft, binge watch shows, and spend time with her nieces and nephews in her spare time. 479.636.3190 x 117
DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES
Spanning 40 years, Elizabeth has made a career in the human services field. Much of her experience has been with non-profit agencies that provide services to individuals with disabilities. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and is proud to be a native Arkansan. Elizabeth was born and raised in south Arkansas, migrating to the northwest part of the state in 1984. In addition to time spent working at Sunshine School, she has several other interests. She is an avid kayak fisherman who loves spending time on the beautiful Ozark streams. She also loves to sew, flower garden, and update and repurpose used furniture. Elizabeth is an essential part of the Sunshine School staff and always has her eye out for new talent to join the team. Developing relationships with Sunshine team members is her favorite part of being Director of HR. She is focused on making Sunshine School and Development Center a great place to work and dedicated to hiring individuals that can help us carry out our mission. 479.636.3190 x 191
DIRECTOR OF CLINICAL SERVICES
Elizabeth Brown has over 16 years of professional experience working with children and families in Arkansas. She earned a master's degree in Human Development from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Central Arkansas. As Director of Clinical Services, Elizabeth leads our therapy and nursing services at Sunshine. This includes the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Occupational therapy, Speech-language therapy, Physical therapy, behavior/mental health, and our nursing services. Elizabeth and her husband of 15 years have three wonderful children. She enjoys spending time as a family in our community, cheering on the Hogs, and reading. Elizabeth is focused on expanding and improving our clinical services at Sunshine and helping the children and family we serve to reach their full potential in a supportive and encouraging environment.
DIRECTOR OF LICENSING
Jill has over 30 years in the early childhood field and has been with Sunshine School since 1993, where she started as a Developmental Therapist and worked in the home with children under 3 years old. In 1994, Jill facilitated the start of the Parents as Teachers program at the Sunshine School. By 2008, she obtained her current position as the Director of Special Programs & Licensing and had expanded the Arkansas Better Chance program from 18 to eventually 41 children in center. Jill has overseen many Special Programs such as Special Nutrition, Arkansas Better Chance, Parents as Teachers and our Better Beginnings Quality standards along with Child Care Licensing requirements. She is also an active member in the NWA Directors Network. Jill has been married for 27 years, has 2 wonderful sons, a bonus daughter-in-law and 3 cherished grandchildren. She believes children are our greatest asset and we need to do all that we can to help them learn, flourish, and succeed while having fun at the same time. 479.636.3190 x 123