Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Application Process

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Educator Effectiveness & Licensure
Regulatory Authority
Ark. Code Ann. ยง 6-17-2501 et. seq.
Response Required
Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Teachers

Primary Contact Information

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No references available.

Memo Text

The Arkansas Department of Education will begin accepting nominations for the 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year (ATOY) beginning March 13, 2020. Each public-school district in Arkansas may select one teacher as its District Teacher of the Year and nominate that teacher for the ATOY.

A selection panel assembled by the ADE will review the applications and select 16 regional finalists, one representing each education service cooperative and one representing Pulaski County.The panel will select four state finalists from among the regional finalists. The panel will conduct site visits before selecting the ATOY.


Candidates must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • Candidates must be skillful and dedicated teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. 
  • The ATOY candidate must be engaged directly in instruction in a classroom setting for more than 70 percent of the individual’s contracted time. 
  • Instructional literacy facilitators must spend at least 70 percent of their time in the classroom to qualify. 
  • Librarians and Guidance Counselors are eligible to participate in the ATOY.
  • Administrators are not eligible. 

The ATOY will begin his or her duties on July 1, 2021 and will end his or her duties on June 30, 2022. Duties include the following: 

  • Serving on paid administrative leave from his or her district to work with the ADE.
  • Developing professional development and providing technical assistance to Arkansas teachers and students.
  • Serving as a non-voting member of the State Board of Education.
  • Serving as an ambassador for education in Arkansas.
  • Making appropriate public appearances across the state.
  • Representing Arkansas in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Candidates nominated by their districts must complete an online application which is available at this link:



The online application will require candidates to upload the following items: 


  • *The Candidacy Approval Form with all signatures (pdf format).
  • One resume no longer than two pages (pdf format).
  • Three letters of recommendation that support why the candidate should be the 2021 National Teacher of the Year. At least one of these must be a recommendation from a parent, colleague or administrator, and each letter should not exceed one page in length (pdf format).
    (Please note that the letters for the candidate who is selected as the 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year will be submitted to the National Teacher of the Year program.)
  • One video that is three to five minutes in length. The first minute must showcase the candidate's story as an educator. The additional time must showcase the candidate's passion for education through one of three provided topics in the application. The videos must be recorded with no editing, within the required time, and uploaded into Google. The online application will require the candidate to submit the Google link to the video (Google link). 
  • Evidence of student growth-up to four documents, which should include a one-page typed explanation of the evidence (pdf format)
  • One portrait photograph of the candidate suitable for use in publicity activities (jpg format). Photo must not be copyrighted.
  • *Adult Release Form (pdf format). 

*Denotes the document is attached to this memo and found on the ATOY webpage.


Timeline of ATOY selection and recognition process: 

March 2020

Application Window Opens

June 2020

ATOY Application Support Zoom meeting on Tuesday, June 2nd, at 3:00 p.m. Webinar information will go out on social media and the ATOY webpage on May 27th.

June 12, 2020

Applications are due by NOON.

June 19, 2020

Applications go out to the selection panel for scoring

July 3-8, 2020

Regional Finalists will be notified

July 31st, 2020

Finalist Recognition Ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion

August 29, 2020

Finalists Recognition at the Arkansas Travelers Game

September 2020

The ATOY selection panel visits four finalists’ schools for classroom observations and interviews

November 2020

All Regional Finalists attend Teacher Leadership Training at ADE

December 2020

Announcement of 2021 ATOY will be made prior to this date

January 2021

2021 ATOY begins training for year of service

July 1, 2021

2021 ATOY begins year of service


REMINDER:   The deadline to submit all materials is June 12, 2020 at noon. 



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