Fourteen outstanding teachers from around the state, including Erica Walters of Alma, have been named 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year regional finalists.

Walters is a kindergarten teacher at Alma Primary School.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key will recognize the regional finalists on Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion. Guests will arrive at 9:45 a.m., followed by networking and a reception. The program will begin at 11 a.m. During the ceremony, the four state semi-finalists will be announced.

“Each year we receive applications from some amazing teachers, and this year is no exception,” Key said. “These 14 teachers have demonstrated excellence in the classroom, and I am pleased to recognize them as regional finalists. They serve as role models for their peers, and I commend them and all the applicants for their commitment to ensuring our students graduate ready for college, career and community engagement.”

Other finalist are Renee Bailey of Magnolia, Jennifer Biggers of Walnut Ridge Elementary School, Chrystal Burkes of Bryant, Juanita Harris of Texarkana, Heather Hite of McCrory, Marcus Luther of Wynne, Stacey McAdoo of Little Rock, Rob Plant of Mineral Springs, Liz Richey of Hermitage, Blair Rogers of West Memphis, Vanessa Stewart of Springdale, Margie Towery of Greenbrier and Candace Wilson of Sheridan.

The Arkansas Teacher of the Year program is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes exceptional teachers who demonstrate strong teaching and leadership skills. The 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, who will be announced this fall, will apply to become the 2019 NTOY.

This year’s ATOY Regional Finalists will each receive a $1,000 award. Awards are made possible by a grant provided by the Walton Family Foundation, a long-time supporter of the program.

Some State Board of Education members plan to attend the Thursday event at the Governor’s Mansion.