Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year Program

Arkansas Teacher of the Year logo

The classroom teacher is the backbone of the American education system. No one person has a greater impact on the education of a child than does the teacher who creates the primary learning and instructional environment. The National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) program, which is a project of the  Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs, began in 1952. 

As part of the NTOY program, the Arkansas Teacher of Year program identifies, recognizes and utilizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms in Arkansas public schools. To learn more about this process in Arkansas, go to Commissioner's Memo LIC-22-023.

The mission of the ATOY program is to promote the profession and recognize quality teachers who implement "best practices" in Arkansas public school classrooms. The ATOY program is led by the Arkansas Department of Education in partnership with the State Board of Education.

Cabot Educator Named 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

When Jessica Saum, a special education teacher at Stagecoach Elementary School in Cabot, woke up this morning, she knew she was one of four Arkansas Teacher of the Year state semi-finalists. What she didn’t know until a surprise ceremony this afternoon, however, was that she was in fact selected as the 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. To learn more, please read the press release.

Four Arkansas Teacher of the Year State Semi-Finalists Named

On August 5, 2021, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key recognized four Arkansas teachers who were named 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the Year State Semi-Finalists. During the ceremony held at the Governor’s Mansion, 12 regional finalists also were honored.

The state semi-finalists each received a medallion and an additional $1,000 prize provided by the Walton Family Foundation.

The four semi-finalists are: Allison Dolan of Don Tyson School of Innovation in the Springdale School District; Jil'Lana Heard, of Lake Hamilton High School in the Lake Hamilton School District; Vickie Lewis of NewStart Academy ALE in the Wynne School District, and Jessica Saum of Stagecoach Elementary School in the Cabot School District. To learn more, please read the press release. You may also learn about the regional finalists.

Left to right: Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Jil'Lana Heard, Vickie Lewis, Allison Dolan, Jessica Saum, and ADE Secretary Johnny Key.

Fort Smith Teacher Named 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Fort Smith Mayor George McGill; 2021 ATOY Susanna Post,; Secretary of Education Johnny Key and 2020 ATOY Joel Lookadoo,

When Susanna Post, a math and business technology teacher at Belle Point Alternative Center in Fort Smith, arrived at school Oct. 19, 2020, 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.

Post, a five-year teacher, utilizes her previous business world experience to build relationships with her students, connect them with the outside community, and give them real-world, relatable problems to solve. She strongly believes that positive relationships result in improved student learning and a strong school culture. Because of her multi-dimensional approach to reach each and every student, Post was named the Arkansas Teacher of the Year. Learn more at


For more information, please contact:

Venus Torrence, Educator Impact Coordinator
Arkansas Department of Education
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Educator Effectiveness
Four Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: 501-683-4786

 Related Files

 Related Links