Four COE alumni earn regional teacher honors

Four alumni from SAU’s College of Education were 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional Finalists.

Renee Bailey, fourth grade math, science and social studies teacher at Central Elementary School in Magnolia; Juanita Harris, first grade teacher at Union Elementary School in Texarkana; Rob Plant, grades 4-12 computer science teacher in Mineral Springs; and Chrystal Burkes, a current student in the Library Media graduate program at SAU and a grade 3 literacy teacher in Bryant were recognized by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key at a ceremony held on August 16 at the Governor’s Mansion.

Bailey, Harris, Plant, and Burkes were among 14 teachers from across the state honored with the designation. “These 14 teachers have demonstrated excellence in the classroom, and I am pleased to recognize them as regional finalists,” Key said. “They serve as role models for their peers, and I commend them all for their commitment to ensuring our students graduate ready for college, career and community engagement.”

SAU’s Chair of Teacher Education Dr. Neelie Dobbins echoed Key’s sentiments, “I am so proud of these SAU alumni. They graduated from SAU and continue to flourish in learning and love for teaching. Each of them has earned an amazing achievement being a 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional Finalist, and I know their love for teaching truly is making a great impact on the lives of children in Arkansas schools.”

Harris ’10, ’13, a Texarkana, Arkansas, native, has fond memories of her time at SAU “There were some late nights and early mornings, but I would not trade anything for my journey,” she said. “I can honestly say that choosing SAU was one of the best decisions of my life. I met some of my best friends and made some of my favorite memories while on campus.”

Each public school district in Arkansas may select one teacher as its District Teacher of the Year and nominate that teacher for the Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

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