College of Education and Health Professions Recognizes 'Mentor Teacher of the Year' Winners
Recent U of A graduate Madison Phinney surprised Allyson Bailey with a Mentor Teacher of the Year award at the end of the school year.
Four Northwest Arkansas public school educators were named "Mentor Teacher of the Year" for 2022-23.
Students in the U of A teacher education program nominated each winner after serving as interns in their classrooms. The mentor teachers are Allyson Bailey, Central Junior High School in Springdale; Carmen Ellis, Old Wire Elementary School in Rogers; Antha Johnson, Fayetteville High School; and Maegan Shreve, Farmington High School.
U of A teacher candidates spend either a semester or a full year as interns in public schools across the region for hands-on training before they have their own classrooms to manage. Being paired with great mentor educators is crucial to a student teacher's success, said J.L. Jennings, director of field placement for the Office of Teacher Education in the College of Education and Health Professions.
The U of A's Office of Teacher Education places approximately 900 students in nearly 15 school districts annually and also serves as the central source of information on Arkansas educator licensure requirements and regulations for students and constituents.
"Mentor teachers are vital to preparing Arkansas' future educators because their guidance and leadership in the classroom complements our rigorous curriculum," Jennings said. "That combination results in high-quality teachers who are ready to serve our state. Mentor teachers are our lifeblood; without them, we would not be as successful."
Each nominating student graduated on Saturday, May 13, with teaching degrees in various programs.
ALLYSON BAILEY, CENTRAL JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Madison Phinney, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in Career and Technical Education - Family and Consumer Sciences, said in a nomination letter that her mentor teacher, Allyson Bailey, is known for her innovative teaching methods at Central Junior High. Bailey's teaching philosophy is centered on hands-on learning, Phinney noted, which means she assigns projects that require students to plan and prepare healthy meals, design functional living spaces and manage their finances.
Phinney said the experience in Bailey's classroom was inspirational and fostered her growth as a future teacher. "She has taken the time to explain the rationale behind her teaching methods and has encouraged me to ask questions and offer feedback," Phinney wrote. Bailey also provided opportunities for Phinney to attend professional development conferences and workshops, which enhanced her knowledge and teaching skills.
CARMEN ELLIS, OLD WIRE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Alumna Jessica Nyden, left, and mentor teacher Carmen Ellis.
Jessica Nyden, who earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in childhood education, praised her mentor teacher's creativity and flexibility. She said Carmen Ellis, a third-grade teacher at Old Wire Elementary School in Rogers, is highly responsive and adjusts to the needs of the students during her lessons. No student is left behind to struggle, Nyden wrote in her nomination letter.
"Mrs. Ellis provides the appropriate amount of support while also allowing productive struggle," she stated. "Her teaching demonstrates support, relationship building and flexibility. She is a strong role model, and I hope to become half the teacher she is one day."
Nyden earned Outstanding Master of Arts in Teaching and Outstanding STEM awards from the U of A. "I know these awards are because I had a mentor who allowed me to explore and try new things while supporting me along the way," she wrote.
ANTHA JOHNSON, FAYETTEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
Britney McGloflin, who graduated last month with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in secondary education, was thrilled to be placed with mentor teacher Antha Johnson. Johnson, director of Debate and Forensics at Fayetteville High School, often served as a judge at tournaments where McGloflin competed as a high school student. "Every student knew that having her as your judge was something to look forward to because of the compassion she showed every competitor," McGloflin wrote in her nomination letter. "It did not matter if you were 'her student' or a student from another school. She would always greet you with a smile and give you great feedback to help you grow as a performer."
McGloflin said Johnson is the ultimate role model educator. "From the moment students walk into her classroom, they know they are valued as people and not just seen as another student," she wrote. She noted that Johnson's impact on students is extensive because she often sees them six days a week. "She travels across the state of Arkansas to take her students to compete at debate and forensics tournaments. This means many late-night and early-morning bus rides. This is a true testament to her dedication as an educator. Ms. Johnson's positive impact on me as a teacher candidate is something I will carry with me for the rest of my career as an educator."
MAEGAN SHREVE, FARMINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
Mentor teacher Maegan Shreve, left, and alumna Haley Stadtmueller.
Haley Stadtmueller, who earned a special education degree in May, said she "found her teacher voice" while working with her mentor teacher, Maegan Shreve. Stadtmueller said she nominated Shreve for her "work ethic, consistency in teaching/working beyond her job requirements, investment in her students in and outside of the classroom, and investment in mentoring."
Stadtmueller noted that Shreve, who has taught special education at Farmington High school for eight years, creates a genuinely fun, welcoming and respectful classroom. "She invests in students outside of school by coaching Special Olympics, tutoring and going to students' sports games," Stadtmueller wrote in her nomination letter.
Stadtmueller said her mentor teacher is a strong collaborator, whether it's with general education teachers, the vice principal, other special education teachers or the counselor, to meet the needs of all students. "She sees the whole student, not just the student in the classroom. She knows their home lives and backgrounds and meets students and families where they are," Stadtmueller wrote. "She is an active listener during meetings, making parents feel seen and understood. She comes early and stays late."
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