The University of Central Arkansas was host to both a special event and announcement in Arkansas education.

On Feb. 2, the Arkansas Department of Education announced the kick-off of its Teach Arkansas campaign. Teach Arkansas is designed to recruit, retain and support teachers within the state, along with encouraging those who may have left the profession to return.

This announcement took place during the 2018 Impacting Tomorrow Summit, where about 450 Arkansas high school juniors and seniors in the Arkansas Teacher Cadet program gathered at UCA to learn more about pursuing teaching as a career. Throughout the day, these students from more than 40 high schools across the state attended sessions on transitioning to college, what studying education is like and emerging technologies in the field of education.

“We work with higher education to get you the opportunities to put you on the path to become the kind of teacher that a 5-year-old, that 10-year-old, that 15-year-old is going to need,” state Education Commissioner Johnny Key told the students.

Throughout the year, Teach Arkansas aims to offer activities such as Praxis workshops and promote the hashtag #TeachArkansas, said Jeff Dyer, program advisor for teacher recruitment and retention at the Arkansas Department of Education.

“What we want to do is promote the profession and also show support but do some hands-on things, as well in addition to the campaign,” Dyer said.

Alexandria Slater, a Dumas High School senior with an interest in teaching family and consumer science at the high school level, said the summit has taught her more about the state of teaching in Arkansas, such as teacher shortages.

“We live in the Delta, and we really don’t have a lot of teachers,” said Slater, who has an interest in teaching family and consumer science at the high school level. “We have new teachers every year. So for me to be able to come back to my hometown or somewhere close, that really can probably make a difference.”

Linsley Adams, a Hamburg High School senior who plans to attend UCA this fall, said the summit helped expose him to different perspectives.

“It opens students’ eyes to what they could do with this career,” he said. “It’s not just showing them what a teacher is, it’s showing them the benefits: being able to get closer to the community, helping out students, showing the path to a better community.”

For more information on the Impacting Tomorrow Summit and Teach Arkansas, visit the Arkansas Department of Education.