The Arkansas Department of Education announced the 15 teachers named 2020 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional Finalists, including area residents.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key will recognize the regional finalists and announce the four state semi-finalists Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Governor’s Mansion.

Regional finalists include:

Raelin Duck-Schroeder — Grades 9-12 Pre-AP English, AP English, General English, Drama, and Teacher Cadets; Stuttgart High School, Stuttgart School District, Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative;

Brenda Nolan — Grades K-3 Literacy/Reading, Hermitage Elementary School, Hermitage School District, Southeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative;

Mary Dunn — Grade 6 Special Education, College Hill Middle School, Texarkana Arkansas School District, Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative;

Cassidy Smith — Grades 3-6 Gifted and Talented, Central Elementary School, Magnolia School District, South Central Service Cooperative;

Cana Able — Grades 10-11 English Language Arts, Academies of West Memphis, West Memphis School District, Great Rivers Education Service Cooperative;

Catherine Beckham — Grades 10-12 Orientation to Teaching I and II and Senior Internships, Mountain Home High School Career Academies, Mountain Home School District, Northcentral Education Service Cooperative;

Jennifer Brown — Kindergarten, Walnut Ridge Elementary School, Lawrence County School District, Northeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative;

Lindsey Duncan — Grade 4 Literacy, Southside Elementary School, Cabot School District, Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative;

Marcus Jones — Grades 10-12 English, The Academies at Jonesboro High School, Jonesboro School District, Crowley’s Ridge Educational Service Cooperative;

Joel Lookadoo — Grade 9 Algebra 1, Lakeside Junior High School, Springdale School District, Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative;

Clarissa Mays — Grades 9-12 EAST and Computer Science, Arkadelphia High School, Arkadelphia School District, Dawson Education Cooperative;

Barry Reese — Grades 5-8 History, Lead Hill Elementary School and Lead Hill High School, Lead Hill School District, Ozarks Unlimited Resource Educational Service Cooperative;

Melissa Spence — Grade 1, Theodore Jones Elementary School, Conway School District, Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative;

Dejah Stephens — Grades 5-6 Language Arts and Social Studies, Raymond F. Orr Elementary School, Fort Smith School District; Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative;

Jeffrey Whitlow — Grade 5, Don R. Roberts Elementary School, Little Rock School District, Pulaski County.

Teacher of the Year details

The Arkansas Teacher of the Year program is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes teachers for their teaching and leadership skills. The 2020 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, who will be announced this fall, will apply to become the 2020 National Teacher of the Year.

“I am extremely proud of each of these regional finalists,” Key said. “From their tireless dedication to the teaching profession to their commitment to ensuring their students graduate prepared for college, career, and community engagement, these 15 educators are among the best of the best. With their hard work and dedication, we will achieve our vision of leading the nation in student-focused education.”

Regional finalists will each receive a $1,000 award made possible by a grant provided by the Walton Family Foundation, a long-time supporter of the program. The four state semi-finalists announced Aug. 1 are selected from the 15 regional finalists. One of the four state semi-finalists will be named the 2020 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

Some State Board of Education members plan to attend the Aug. 1 event at the Governor’s Mansion, but no official business will be conducted.