Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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Teacher of the Year

2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional and State Finalists Announced

Fifteen outstanding teachers from around the state have been selected as 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional Finalists. Gov. Asa Hutchinson recognized them at a ceremony Sept. 17 at the Capitol. The top four finalists were announced at the event.

To see pictures of the event, go to To view a video of the event, go to

  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. The NTOY   program continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honors program   that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. 

  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.
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 functions under the leadership of the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) in partnership with the State Board of Education.

Selection Process

The ATOY program adheres to the requirements of the national program regarding schedules, composition of the portfolios and areas in which candidates will be judged. The selection process will focus on the instructional practices and strategies that applicants have used to increase student achievement in their classroom and in the overall school setting.
ADE will select a panel of judges consisting of educators and the current ATOY. As required by Arkansas Code Annotated 6-17-2501 et seq., the ATOY will be selected from among District Teachers of the Year.  Sixteen regional finalists, one from each education service cooperative and one from Pulaski County, will be named. From the regional finalists, the panel also will select four regional finalists as state semi-finalists based on the following:
  • Review of the candidate’s application
  • Panel interviews with the candidate, principal and/or superintendent
  • Observation of the candidate’s classroom. 
The panel shall then recommend one candidate to become the ATOY and submit the recommendation to the commissioner of education for approval.
To view the criteria for the 2016 program, see Commissioner's Memo COM-15-056: 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

Profiles in Teacher Leadership Video Series 

Led by Jonathan Crossley, 2014 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, this series profiles examples of teacher leadership in Arkansas public schools. 

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 currently teaches math for grades seven through twelve at the high school. During her 34-year career, she has 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, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. 

For more information, please contact:

John Kaminar, Special Projects Manager
Arkansas Department of Education
Office of Communications
Four Capitol Mall, Room 403-A
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone:  501-683-5188

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