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LITTLE ROCK—Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas Department of Education and state and national partners recognized two local educators on Thursday for their successful completion of the Arkansas Declaration of Learning program.

Traci Gauldin
Jennifer West

Traci Gauldin, school librarian for grades 7, 11 and 12 at Foreman High School, and Jennifer West, visual arts teacher for grades 7-12 at Horatio High School, were recognized during the celebration.

Arkansas is the first state in the nation to participate in this program, which gives educators the opportunity to create innovative units and lesson plans using historical objects and art from state and national museums. Using these resources, school librarians and art, English language arts and social studies teachers in grades 4-12 bring the subjects they teach to life. The program also includes a student-led civic engagement project that extends learning beyond the classroom.

Program partners include the Arkansas Department of Education, Clinton Foundation, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Central Arkansas Library System, William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Reception Rooms.

"I continue to be amazed at the exceptional ability our teachers have to impart not only academic knowledge to their students but the importance of serving others," Hutchinson said. "There is no better way to instill the importance of civic engagement than by using history to lay the foundation for our future."

ADE Commissioner Johnny Key said, "The Arkansas Declaration of Learning program is one of many that put Arkansas at the forefront of education in the nation. The hard work and commitment from these outstanding educators is to be commended. They have worked for an entire year on dynamic lesson plans that incorporate multiple subject areas and promote community engagement. I congratulate each of you for your contribution and know that your students have benefited greatly from your efforts."

The celebration was held at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. During the events, the following four Arkansas educators received Best of the Best awards for their outstanding lesson plans and civic engagement projects: Anne Canada, school librarian, Paris Middle School; Taylor Gilbreth, social studies, Future School of Fort Smith; Susan Jobe, English language arts and theatre, Vilonia High School; and Arin Parks, school librarian, Westside High School in Jonesboro.

About 150 Arkansas educators have participated in the program, now entering its fifth year and reaching more than 8,000 students. Thirty-eight additional educators from grades 4 through 12 were chosen to participate during the 2019-20 academic year. These new participants will spend the next year developing and using lesson plans in the classroom and school libraries and working with their students to create civic engagement projects that address issues in their school or community.

Applications for the sixth year of the program will open in January 2020. To learn more, contact Cassandra Barnett at [email protected]

—From the Arkansas Department of Education

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