Lisa Gray, an Interventionist at Sunnymede Elementary School, was named as one of the state finalists at the Arkansas Teacher of the Year (ATOY) awards ceremony at the Capitol in Little Rock on Monday, September 16. Out of sixteen educators statewide, Gray was recognized as one of four finalists. The ATOY Ceremony was hosted at the Old Supreme Court Room in the State Capitol at Little Rock. Governor Mike Beebe and educators from around the state were in attendance. As a finalist, Gray received a $1000 award provided by the Walton Family Foundation.
Gray has been with the Fort Smith Public Schools for 21 years and teaching at Sunnymede for the past 4 years. As a total, Gray has 31 years of teaching experience. She has an extensive educational history with multiple degrees from both the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She is certified as a Reading Specialist and has her Master's degree in Literacy. According to Sunnymede Principal, Krystle Smith, "Mrs. Gray is a life-long learner. She approaches issues with a wide spectrum to facilitate her vision, thus seeking opportunities on a daily basis in which she can stretch her thinking and grow personally and professionally."
As a teacher, Gray's approach to instruction involves both an academic and personal style. She believes "learning takes place when positive relationships are built with students." Gray builds these relationships with the students by knowing who they are as an individual to create a learning style best suited for their struggling needs as a reader. She also believes in teachers collaborating together in order to better the present educational community, and to complete the ongoing development of an "effective Professional Learning Community at Sunnymede."
Not only is Lisa Gray a lifelong learner and a valuable member of the Sunnymede faculty, but she has also won numerous awards throughout her career. Just last November, she earned her National Board Certification; a prestigious title to receive in the educational community. In 2001, Gray was presented with the Walmart Teacher of the Year Award, and in 1999 she won the Association for Childhood Education International Outstanding Educator Award.
ATOY finalists are selected based on their teaching skills, along with their dedication to students, parents and colleagues; demonstration of school and community leadership; ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and their commitment to their profession. The contest is sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Education.