The 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year is Meghan Ables, an 11th grade English teacher at Stuttgart High School.
The Arkansas Department of Education says student test scores have dramatically improved during her time in the district and she has worked with fellow teachers to improve techniques for teaching literacy.
Ables says one of the reasons she thinks she won is that she likes to find out what motivates her students.
“I think it’s how I relate to my kids, and I get to know them individually, and just try to find what inspires them as a person, and then use it to help teach them,” she said.
There were three other finalists for the award, including teachers from Nashville, Hot Springs and Siloam Springs. Ables was awarded 14-thousand dollars from the Walton Foundation. She’ll also be provided with a year of paid administrative leave to use for professional development.
Ables says she’s honored and she loves working with high-risk students.
“I really just want to inspire teachers across Arkansas, and maybe teach them some strategies that will help with their high risk students, or low achieving students—those are the kids I love the most in my classroom—and I hope I can make a difference in those kids lives in other schools.”
She was also named 2015 Most Inspirational Teacher at Stuttgart Schools.