Searcy High teacher among 15 regional finalists for Arkansas Teacher of the Year

Fifteen exceptional teachers have been selected as 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional Finalists.

Searcy High School’s Robert Mayes, an instructor in AP Calculus, Algebra II and AP Physics, is among the regional finalists.

“To be selected as a regional finalist is an honor,” said Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key. “These outstanding teachers have set the standard of excellence for their schools, districts and the state. I commend them for their dedication, commitment and hard work.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Commissioner Key will recognize the regional finalists at 10:30 a.m. Thursday,

Sept. 17, in the Old Supreme Court room at the Capitol. During the ceremony, the top four finalists will be announced.

The 15 regional finalists are:

Meghan Ables

  • 11th Grade English/Literacy
  • Stuttgart High School
  • Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative

Lindsey Barton

  • Second Grade
  • Monticello Elementary School
  • Southeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative

Vaughanda Bowie

  • Fourth Grade Science/Literacy
  • West Magnet Elementary School of Visual and Performing Arts
  • Batesville School District
  • Northcentral Arkansas Education Service Cooperative

Brandon Cooper

  • Tenth-12th Grade World History
  • Russellville High School
  • Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative

Audrey Craven

  • Tenth-12th Grade Math (Geometry)
  • Academies of West Memphis
  • Great Rivers Education Service Cooperative

Shedrich Franklin

  • Fifth-sixth Grade Social Studies
  • College Hill Middle School in Texarkana
  • Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative

Brenda Galliher

  • Eighth Grade Science
  • Nashville Junior High School
  • DeQueen-Mena Education Service Cooperative

Stephanie Goodman

  • Sixth Grade Mathematics
  • Hot Springs Intermediate School
  • Dawson Education Service Cooperative

Jerry Haynes

  • Seventh-12th Grade Mathematics
  • Walnut Ridge High School
  • Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative

Laurie Hicks

  • Tenth-12th Grade Visual Art
  • Magnolia High School
  • South Central Education Service Cooperative

Robert Mayes

  • Tenth-12th Grade AP Calculus, Algebra II, AP Physics
  • Searcy High School
  • Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative

Kimberly Rahi

  • Fifth Grade Literacy
  • Barling Elementary School
  • Fort Smith School District
  • Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative

Michael Rogers

  • Ninth-12th Grade Agriculture
  • Siloam Springs High School
  • Northwest Education Service Cooperative

Spencer Sutterfield

  • Eleventh-12th Grade Drama/Theatre Arts
  • Parkview Arts and Sciences High School
  • Little Rock School District
  • Pulaski County

LaJuana Warner

  • Seventh-9th Grade Vocal Music
  • Annie Camp Junior High School
  • Jonesboro School District
  • Crowley’s Ridge Education Service Cooperative

The Arkansas Teacher of the Year program is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, which began in 1952. Teachers who exhibit strong teaching skills, leadership and dedication are nominated for the award.

A long-time supporter, the Walton Family Foundation is providing a grant allowing each regional finalist to receive a $1,000 award. The teacher selected as the Arkansas Teacher of the Year will receive an additional $14,000.

The selection committee will conduct site visits for each of the four finalists. During the site visits, the committee will observe the teacher in the classroom and conduct interviews with the teacher and school administration. A surprise notification announcing the 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year will be held later this fall.  

In addition to the recognition ceremony, a reception for the regional finalists will be held in Room 207 at the Capitol immediately following the event Sept. 17.

To learn more about the ATOY program, in addition to the nominating process, visit