Arkansas Teacher of the Year (ATOY) Archive

This page features an archive of educators recently recognized as Arkansas Teacher of the Year.


Cabot Teacher Named 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Jessica Saum, a special education teacher at Stagecoach Elementary School in Cabot, was named the 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the Year in a surprise ceremony at her school. Saum, who has been a self-contained special education teacher for grades K-4 in Cabot since 2018, is known not only for her excellence in the classroom but for her advocacy work on behalf of her students, her efforts to connect her students with learning opportunities in the community, and her support for military families. To learn more, please read the press release.


Fort Smith Teacher Named 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

When Susanna Post, a math and business technology teacher at Belle Point Alternative Center in Fort Smith, arrived at school Oct. 19, she had no idea that a huge surprise awaited her. During an 11 a.m. socially-distant assembly, Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key recognized Post as the 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

Learn more at https://bit.ly/2MuJjPA.  Watch the moment when Susanna Post was announced as 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year at 


Springdale Teacher Named 2020 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Joel Lookadoo received the surprise of a lifetime October 22, 2019, when he was named the 2020 Arkansas Teacher of the Year at an assembly at Lakeside Junior High School in Springdale. Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key was joined by several State Board of Education members and legislators to honor Lookadoo, an Algebra 1 teacher at the school.

Learn more at https://bit.ly/3jc6hXw. Watch the moment when Joel Lookadoo was announced as 2020 Arkansas Teacher of the Year at https://youtu.be/oHrv3l8-GQ8?t=1. Check out the podcast that Lookadoo launched during his tenure: "The Well-Rounded Educator".


Little Rock School District Teacher Named 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

When Stacey McAdoo arrived at Little Rock Central High School on the morning of October 8, 2018, she had no idea she would receive the surprise of a lifetime. During a special presentation, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key recognized McAdoo as the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. A 16-year educator at the time of her selection, McAdoo taught communication and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) for grades nine through 12.

Learn more about Stacey McAdoo by going to Stacey's Story. You may also view the press release


Conway Teacher Named 2018 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Excellence in teaching was the focus of a surprise announcement when Randi House, a kindergarten teacher at Theodore Jones Elementary School in the Conway School District, was named the 2018 Arkansas Teacher of the Year on September 29, 2017.

Learn more about Randi House in this press release

Watch Gov. Asa Hutchinson's congratulatory message at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_fY2WneX8s.


Courtney Cochran Named 2017 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Courtney Cochran, a Spanish teacher at Van Buren High School, was named the 2017 Arkansas Teacher of the Year during a surprise announcement Nov. 3, 2016 at her school. Cochran went on to become principal at Cedarville High School. 

To learn more about Cochran's selection, go to this press release.         

Watch Gov. Asa Hutchinson's congratulatory message at https://youtu.be/s4IPBSVVS5o.


Ables Named 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Meghan Ables, an English teacher at Stuttgart High School in the Stuttgart School District, was named the 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year at a surprise event Dec. 7 at the school. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key honored Ables at the event.

Ables went on to work at the Arkansas Department of Education and later as an assistant principal at Park Avenue Elementary School in Stuttgart.

At the time that she was chosen as Teacher of the Year, she was an 11th-grade English/literacy and journalism teacher. Because of her contribution to learning, student test scores dramatically improved during her tenure at the district. To learn more, go to this press release. 


Ouida Newton Named 2015 Arkansas Teacher of the Year 

Ouida Newton, a math teacher at Poyen High School, was named the 2015 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Nov. 21, 2014, at a surprise notification event in Poyen. Newton went on to serve as a member of the State Board of Education.

Newton taught math for grades seven through twelve at the high school. During her 34-year career, she taught math, Algebra I and II, sixth-grade science, pre-algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, calculus, trigonometry, transition to college math, physics, and Algebra A & B. 

She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Henderson State University at Arkadelphia, with a double major in math and science. Newton received a Master of Library and Informational Science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.