Arkansas Teacher Corps Sends Teachers Back to School: Nine Districts Welcome Fellows

Arkansas Teacher Corps staff, Summer Institute Team, and the 2019 Teacher Fellows pose for a final picture upon completion of summer training. (July 2019)
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Arkansas Teacher Corps staff, Summer Institute Team, and the 2019 Teacher Fellows pose for a final picture upon completion of summer training. (July 2019)

School is back in session and 22 Arkansas Teachers Corps Fellows have met their students. Nine school districts across Arkansas welcomed new teaching fellows in addition to six districts welcoming returning fellows.

Former faculty member Gary Ritter and former Dean Tom Smith developed the program in 2012 to support the community's investment in their schools by providing access to an even larger pool of teachers.

"The University of Arkansas is a land-grant institution so our mission is to serve the entire state," Ritter said. "Our college has an obligation to train teachers to serve the schools in areas with the greatest need. ATC was built for this purpose."

Each year since 2013, the program has received about 200 requests for teachers from school leaders in school districts facing teacher shortages, particularly in high schools and in math and science. At the same time, ATC staff have sorted through applications from about 150 prospective teachers each year. After a thorough interview process, which includes a teaching demonstration, ATC staff award the Fellowships to roughly 25 teachers each year. 

Teacher boot camp

Prior to fellows' first year of teaching, they participate in the ATC summer institute. The seven-week training held at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. includes 130 hours of professional development and 20 hours of student teaching. ATC then places new fellows in school districts across central, eastern, and southern Arkansas to teach in hard-to-fill critical shortage content areas. This past year, ATC received more than 150 fellowship applications and over 200 requests for new teachers from partner schools. Twenty-two applicants were chosen for the 2019 cohort for a total of 56 ATC fellows teaching during the 2019-20 school year.

"ATC Fellows go above and beyond to ensure that all students have access to excellent, equitable education that empowers them to be successful in the community, workforce, and the larger world," said Brandon Lucius, ATC executive director.

"Several of these new teachers have left successful careers in other fields to give back to their hometown community, and many sacrifice time away from their families and loved ones to participate in the seven-week summer training. ATC Fellows put in the long hours necessary to be the best they can be for their students, working from sunrise to sunset all summer to learn new skills, apply them in the classroom, meet with students, and reflect on their practice," Lucius said.

In August of 2019, the Fellows listed below will begin their three-year commitment to students in Arkansas. The following list includes the names of the fellowship recipients, their hometowns, educational background, and school assignments:

  • Jacquin Benson, Blytheville; bachelor’s degree, criminal justice, Southeast Missouri State University; Blytheville School District, science
  • Scott Corbin, Jonesboro; master’s degree, sports management, SUNY Cortland; Blytheville School District, math
  • Cordie Gardner, Gosnell; master’s degree, education, Strayer University; Blytheville School District, social studies
  • Ruby Vaden, Blytheville; bachelor’s degree, speech communications, Arkansas Tech University; Blytheville School District. English language arts
  • Erica Weathers, Jonesboro; master’s degree, management, Troy University; Blytheville School District, math
  • DeLecia Jones, Pine Bluff; bachelor’s degree, English-liberal arts, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Dollarway School District, social studies
  • Meyonsha Riddles, Little Rock; bachelor’s degree, English, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Dollarway School District, English language arts 
  • Nicole Stewart, Little Rock; bachelor’s degree, visual art, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Dollarway School District, art 
  • Anna Romm, Sherman Texas; bachelor’s degree, political science, Hendrix College;  Dollarway School District, social studies
  • Jeremy Floyd, Fayetteville; bachelor’s degree, history, University of Arkansas; Hope School District, English language arts
  • Nneka Love, Forrest City; master’s degree, social work, Arkansas State University; Lee County School District, kindergarten 
  • Tisha Moss, Memphis, Tennessee; bachelor’s degree, integrative studies, The University of Memphis; Lee County School District, kindergarten
  • Maggie Howard, Marianna; bachelor’s degree, wildlife ecology and management, Arkansas State University; Lee County School District, science lab
  • Morgan Mays, Columbus, Ohio; bachelor’s degree, art history, The Ohio State University;  Lee County School District, art
  • Michael Leuthe, Eau Claire, Wisconsin; bachelor’s degree, philosophy, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point; Lee County School District, social studies
  • Darrah Maxfield, North Little Rock; bachelor’s degree, educational studies, University of Arkansas; North Little Rock School District, math
  • Eli LaSalle, Fayetteville; bachelor’s degree, biological engineering, University of Arkansas; Osceola School District, math
  • Temisha Daniel, Little Rock; bachelor’s degree, radiologic imaging, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Pine Bluff School District, reading
  • Justin Harmon, Pine Bluff; bachelor’s degree, social work, University of Central Arkansas; Pine Bluff School District, social studies
  • Tyler Graham, Pine Bluff; bachelor’s degree, English and creative writing, Henderson State University; Pine Bluff School District, English language arts
  • Rachel Turner, Hope; bachelor’s degree, general studies, Southern Arkansas University; Prescott School District, English language arts
  • Cade Vallee, Eau Claire, Wisconsin; bachelor’s degree, studio art, Henderson State University; West Memphis School District, art

These new teachers will receive ongoing coaching and development throughout the school year for the entirety of their three-year teaching commitment to ATC and to their school.

The Arkansas Teacher Corps is a partnership between the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Education, and more than 20 school districts to recruit, train, and support committed Arkansans as empowered teachers facilitating excellent, equitable education every day. Funding for the program has been made available by the U of A College of Education and Health Professions, the Walton Family Foundation, the ADE Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, and individual donors through the Arkansas Teacher Corps Society. Please visit to learn more, apply for a Fellowship, or request teachers.


Maci Edwards, director of organizational development
Department of Education Reform


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