LITTLE ROCK – Stacey McAdoo is Arkansas’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. She learned the news Monday morning while she was doing what she loves. She was working with students at Little Rock Central High.
But this announcement was a surprise. Her students were on the stage in the auditorium. Ms. McAdoo thought she was preparing them to make a video. She didn’t know that several of us were waiting behind the curtain with a Teacher of the Year plaque and a check for $14,000.
After her students ran through a rap poem, the curtain opened. The communications teacher was so surprised that she was without words. But only for a moment.
To those who know of Ms. McAdoo’s work with students, the honor is not a surprise.
Ms. McAdoo, a graduate of Hall High, is known as a teacher with a heart for students who are at risk of falling through the cracks. She teaches communications and leads AVID – which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. AVID is a college-preparation program, and many of the participants are the first member of their family to go to college.
One measure of Ms. McAdoo’s success is that her students have the highest attendance rate at Little Rock Central. Her students’ average ACT score is 21. That is higher than the state average.
Ms. McAdoo doesn’t confine her work to the classroom. She founded Writeous Poets. Those students write poetry based on their research about significant historical events.
I had the pleasure of hearing two of the Writeous poems in February when several members of the poetry club performed at the capitol during Black History Month.
Ms. McAdoo was one of 14 regional finalists for the honor. Now she will compete for National Teacher of the Year. The finalists and winner in the Arkansas Teacher of Year are the cream of the crop. The program allows us to honor the best in the profession. We tell their story to inspire and encourage all teachers in the state.
Another way to honor and encourage our teachers is to pay competitive salaries. I have proposed a plan that will increase the minimum teachers’ salary to $36,000 a year, which would be the highest in our region.
The future of Arkansas’s success greatly depends on our ability to attract and retain teachers such as Ms. McAdoo and last year’s Teacher of the Year, Randi House.
Some of Ms. McAdoo’s students refer to her as Mom-ager – a combination of mom and manager. That’s a fitting title for a teacher who is teaching life and communication skills. Her passion and devotion help students find their way in the world. Congratulations, Stacey McAdoo. And thank you.