PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. -- Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) is once again participating in the annual Arkansas Department of Education’s (ADE) Teacher of the Year program. This is the third year the District has participated in this program. Through a rigorous selection process, each of PCSSD’s 26 schools as well as the Center of Innovation, selected one educator as their school teacher of the year.
The District hosted an awards breakfast on Wednesday, May 17 to recognize the school winners and announce the PCSSD Teacher of the Year. The 2022-2023 PCSSD Teacher of the Year is Ben Light, band director at Joe T. Robinson High School.
Light, a native of the Arkansas Delta, is a product of educators. His mother is an elementary teacher and taught him the importance of reading from a very young age. Light has taken that passion for reading into the band room by teaching students the importance of reading music.
“In addition to his expertise in teaching music, Mr. Light teaches students how to think to solve problems, and how to care about themselves and each other,” says Jo Ann Kohler, director of fine arts for PCSSD. “Since his time leading the Robinson band program, [he] has increased the enrollment from less than 20 students to well over 250 students in grades 6-12.”
Light started working in PCSSD in 2014 and was named band director for the Robinson feeder in the 2017 school year. He continues to grow the band program at the middle and high school level, gaining numerous achievements along the way. His colleagues note the impact he has on his students beyond the awards and recognition.
“His students love him because he is kind, funny, and [he] cares about them. His colleagues enjoy him for his energy, commitment, and willingness to always pitch in and make things work,” said Lani Allenbaugh, teacher librarian at Joe T. Robinson High School.
Light was selected out of 27 other PCSSD school-level winners and will now move on to represent the District in the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Program. Last year’s winner, Bokari Williams from Sylvan Hills Middle, was also in attendance at the event. He had the honor of announcing this year’s winner. In addition to receiving a plaque, each school winner will receive a check for $100. The District winner will receive an additional check for $500.
PCSSD followed the Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Teacher of the Year guidelines, including the teacher’s impact on school culture, leadership in and out of the classroom, and student connections.
COLLEGE STATION ELEMENTARY
CRYSTAL HILL ELEMENTARY
DAISY BATES ELEMENTARY
OAK GROVE ELEMENTARY
PINE FOREST ELEMENTARY
SYLVAN HILLS ELEMENTARY
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON ELEMENTARY
SYLVAN HILLS MIDDLE
SYLVAN HILLS JUNIOR HIGH
MILLS UNIVERSITY STUDIES HIGH
SYLVAN HILLS HIGH
CENTER OF INNOVATION
DRIVEN VIRTUAL ACADEMY