Community

Highland, Hooker awarded Rotary honors

Hope Academy of Public Service social studies teacher Tony Hooker, left, was named Rotary Club Secondary Teacher of the Year. Beryl Henry Elementary School Special Education teacher Cleonia Highland, right, was named Rotary Elementary Teacher of the Year at the annual Rotary Club banquet May 2.

A special education teacher who retired after 30 years, but re-entered the teaching profession to continue helping children learn; and, a social studies teacher who was on the ground floor of the development of a unique education concept in Arkansas were honored by the Hope Rotary Club here Thursday as 2019 Rotary Teachers of the Year.

Cleonia Highland, fifth and sixth-grade special education teacher at Beryl Henry Elementary School was named Rotary 2019 Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Hope Academy of Public Service social studies teacher Tony Hooker was named Rotary 2019 Secondary Teacher of the Year.

“We are all proud of both these educators,” Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said. “Their commitment to children and their learning is only surpassed by their professionalism and love of the profession. I am honored to work with such amazing educators.”

Both honorees were given cash awards to be used for classroom purposes.

Highland has taught special education in Hope for 15 years.

But, Highland had already retired after 30 years as a teacher in the Lewisville Public Schools when she returned to teaching in the Hope Public Schools, according to the nomination letter of BHE Principal Dr. Roy Turner.

“Her desire was so strong to help children succeed in school that she re-entered the profession and has been working as a Special Education teacher for the last 15 years with Hope Public Schools,” Dr. Turner wrote. “Ms. Highland has given her time and commitment to every student that she has come in contact with.”

Highland is a graduate of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, where she took a bachelor’s degree in business education at the secondary level. She continued studies at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and received her Special Education Certification from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.

“She is a very creative teacher who makes learning a joy for every child,” Turner wrote. “When I speak with students about Ms. Highland, they always make statements on how much they are learning.”

Highland is active in the community through New Bethel Baptist Church in Hope and is also active in the National Education Association. She is an avid reader, a movie fan, and enjoys watching sports.

Hooker will shift to seventh and eighth-grade mathematics in the 2019-2020 academic year, according to the nomination by HAPS Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke.

“He has been an integral part of developing and executing our mission and vision as we developed a campus that focuses on early college and career preparation as well as service learning for all students who attend school on our campus,” Dr. Duke wrote.

Hooker sponsors the HAPS Student Council and assists the newly renamed Education Accelerated through Service and Technology (EAST) program at HAPS.

Duke said Hooker has lent his skills to bringing “relevant, real-world instruction” to HAPS students and public service commitment in his classroom and through special projects with EAST, such as the repurposing of excess district inventory stored at the former Edith Brown Elementary School campus.

“He has provided supervision to the student-led projects that are allowing us to rejuvenate our ‘silent’ sister campus…,” Duke noted.

Hooker also serves on the faculty team that develops the public service component at HAPS.

“His dedication to this part of our campus has led to great relationships with the Downtown Merchants, Hempstead County Closet, Clinton Birthplace, and Washington State Park, to name a few,” Duke wrote.

Hooker has taught in the Hope Public Schools for eight years, is president of the Personnel Policies Committee, and he is currently pursuing a Master of Education degree in educational leadership and certification as a building administrator at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.

Guest speaker Monica Morris, assistant director and TC coordinator for the Southwest Arkansas Educational Cooperative, outlined her 10 points that make a “great teacher.”

Morris noted that “A great teacher can affect the future of many lives.”

She said great teachers have the capacity to build lasting relationships with students, parents, and others. Morris said everyone has at least one teacher that they remember vividly.

Possessing the confidence in students that they will learn gives them the ability to take risks without fear of failure, Morris said. That, in turn, requires skills as a motivator, who sets high expectations, and has the patience to see them through with students.

Morris said, a great teacher is a source of stability inside and outside of the classroom, who demonstrates a profound dedication to learning and students who are respected as part of a classroom community which an outstanding teacher builds.

“A great teacher is a rebel with a cause,” Morris quipped, noting that the profession is the subject of multiple myths.

“You’ve heard them all.” She said. “Teachers only work nine months a year, get summers off; and, we all know that anybody can do it.”

Morris said that most people do not see what teachers do after school to sponsor student activities, and the professional development they acquire during the summer, as well as time spent in class preparation before and after school, and providing a source for student support outside of the classroom.

 

Back to top button