The seventy-fourth Teachers’ Day Celebration was hosted at the Phillips County Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCC/UA) on March 6, 2018.

The Phillips County Teachers’ Day Committee honored teachers in Phillips County using the theme for this year’s celebration, “Education: The Hope for a Brighter Future.”

National Teachers’ Day takes place every year on the first Tuesday in March. The origin of National Teachers’ Day had its inception was when Mrs. Mattye Maye Woodridge supervised the first Teachers’ Day in 1944 at the Eliza Miller School in Helena Arkansas. She had been crowned Teacher of the Year several times; subsequently, she envisioned a day to honor all teachers.

In a quest to make her dream a reality, she and her friend, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States of America, collaborated and all U. S. governors received a handwritten letter penned by Mrs. Woodridge to garner support for National Teachers’ Day.

Governors, political and educational leaders of Arkansas, Phillips County judges, elected officials, ministers, educators and the communities united and were extremely influential in setting aside a day to honor all teachers for teaching.

Although her vision met struggles, the 81st Congress in 1953 proclaimed the first Tuesday in March as National Teachers’ Day.

Reflecting upon the past, Mrs. Bernestine Williams Stayton, chairperson of the National Teachers’ Day committee, commends the contributions of all individuals from 1944 to the present that labored to commemorate a day to promote teachers. Mrs. Williams Stayton states, “I applaud the impressive visionary, Mrs. Mattye Maye Whyte Woodridge and Mrs. Annie Ruth Pike, my gifted and precious mentor who is the goddaughter of Mrs. Woodridge, for her love and dedication to the mission to honor all teachers annually on the first Tuesday in March.

Retiring in 1974, a Helena World newspaper clipping stated that Mrs. Woodridge had been a living example of a life of personal involvement. Altruistically, Mrs. Pike is a photocopy of the National Teachers’ Day originator, Mrs. Woodridge. Having served as chairperson of the committee for thirty years and still is an active member; Mrs. Pike is a valuable asset. She seems tireless to the perpetual cause and remains faithful to her vow to Mrs. Woodridge to keep the National Teachers’ Day blazing.

We want ALL TEACHERS on ‘Celebration Day’ and ALWAYS to be esteemed for their invaluable service in molding the future leaders of society as they strive to instill in learners that “education is the hope for a brighter future”.

On February 16th at the Phillips County Court House Judge Clark Hall conducted the proclamation signing as elected officials, school administrators, teachers, parents, and supporters witnessed the historic event with the Teachers’ Day Committee.

The Seventy-Fourth (74th) celebration launched into action at the Phillips County Community College of the University of Arkansas on Tuesday, March 6th at 5 p.m. as the Phillips County Teachers’ Day Committee honored all teachers in the County.

The Teachers’ Day Committee wishes to thank all participants of the program, and everyone who attended.

Mr. Earnest Simpson was Master of Ceremonies who made sure the program was executed as printed. Mrs. Tina Mulgride graced the attendees with her musical renditions. Rev. Andre Valley delivered the invocation.

Warm greetings were delivered by Dr. Keith Pinchback, Chancellor of PCCC/UA, Mr. John Hoy, Superintendent of the Helena-West Helena School District, and Dr. Becky Hall, Director of The University of Arkansas Medical Sciences East.  

Mrs. Ollie Rayford cited Mrs. Anita B. Washington as the recipient of the Eliza Miller Alumni Association Award where Mr. George Bingham is founder/emeritus and Dr. Kyle Miller is the chief executive officer. Potentate Alphonso Jones and the Sphinx Temple presented the Happy Teacher’s Day Cake which was received by Ms. Josephine Alexander.

Ms. Susanne McCommon introduced the speaker, Dr. Debbie King, Vice Chancellor, PCCC/UA. Dr. King delivered a motivational tribute of her experience as a teacher /educator in Phillips County. Dr. King paid tribute to her mentors and acknowledged her students whom she says contributed to her success.

Students from Barton-Lexa School District, Desota Academy, Helena-West Helena School District, KIPP Delta Public Schools and Marvell-Elaine School District participated in the Art & Lyric Contests. Students placed as first, second, and third place winners and some students received honorable mentions. The student winners are listed below.

Phillips County National Teachers’ DayArt Contest Winners include:

Grades K-3: 1st - Jaleesa Franklin, A.Mills Kindergarten, J F Wahl Elementary; 2nd - Anyla Morant, 1st Grade, Marvell Elementary, Mrs. Spilman; 3rd - Gabriella Edwards, 2nd Grade, Mrs. Boone, J F Wahl Elementary; Honorable Mention - Jamiya Jimmerson, 3rd Grade, Marvel Elementary, Mrs. Spilman.

Grades 4-5: 1st - Anthony Washington, 4th Grade, Ms. Braswell, J F Wahl Elementary; 2nd - Dakota Royal, 4th Grade, Mrs. Stephens, J F Wahl Elementary; 3rd - Adriana Aguilar, 5th Grade, Mrs. Spilman, Marvel Elementary; Honorable Mention - Latriece Jones, 5th Grade, Marvell Elementary, Mrs. Spilman.

Grades 6-8: 1st - Jadyn Gould, 8th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley; 2nd - Meshall Seals, 8th Grade, Marvell-Elaine, Mrs. Spilman; 3rd - Tyonna Jackson, 8th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley; Honorable Mention - Mekhyla Wallace, 8th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley.

Grades 9-10: 1st - Jeffery Lassiter, 9th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley; 2nd - Alexandria Childers, 9th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley; 3rd - Erin Gregory, 9th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley; Honorable Mention - Jerterrious Frazier, 10th Grade, Marvell High, Mrs. Spillman.

Grades 11-12: 1st - Ellissa Leslie, 11th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley; 2nd - Orenthia Johnson, 11th Grade, Marvell-Elaine, Mrs. Spilman; 3rd - Twaniesha Booth, 12th Grade, Marvell, Mrs. Spilman; Honorable Mention - Alayah Thomas, 11th Grade, Barton-Lexa, E. Hensley.

Phillips County National Teachers’ DayLyric Contest Winners

Grades 4-6: 1st Brianna Wilborn, 6th Grade, J F Wahl Elementary, Lora Washington; 2nd - Marion Dunlap, 6th Grade, J F Wahl Elementary, Lora Washington; 3rd - Willie Winfield, 6th Grade, J F Wahl Elementary, Lora Washington; Honorable Mention - Allen Matthews, 4th Grade, J F Wahl Elementary, Lora Washington.

Grades 7-9: 1st - Saniya Speed, 8th Grade, Central High School, Mrs. Burgess; 2nd - Layla Porter, 8th Grade, Central High School, Mrs. Burgess; 3rd - Evan Edgin, 8th Grade, Central High School, Mrs. Burgess.

Grades 10-12: 1st - Dakota Watkins, 10th Grade, Barton High School, P. Parker; 2nd Amber Smith, 10th Grade, Barton High School, P. Parker.

Dr. Joyce Cottoms, Superintendent of the Marvell-Elaine School District presented the Teacher of the Year Award to teachers from the participating Districts. The Teachers of the Year are: Chris Grapis –Barton-Lexa, Sheron Coats-Desota Academy, Brenda Brown-Helena-West Helena, LaToya Jones -KIPP Delta, and Rhonda Hunter Marvell-Elaine School District. These teachers were chosen by their peers based on creativity, concern for children, enthusiasm, cooperation with peer groups, positive attitude, empathy and understanding, originality, communication, a desire for professional enrichment and the ability to inspire. Helena National Bank and Doughboy sponsored the teacher awards.

A good time was had by all as names were drawn for door prizes and given out by Ms. Regina Boards, Rev. Leroy Williams, Mr. W. Turner, and Ms. Hunter. Closing remarks were given by Mrs. Bernestine Williams-Stayton, Committee Chairperson, in which she thanked all participants and those in attendance for making the program a success.

Special thanks were showered upon the Central High School Ambassadors, sponsored by Ms. Sherry Davis, for their exemplary character. Registrars for the event were Mrs. Sherry Davis and Ms. Shelvy Hunter, along with Hostesses, The Houses of Greek.  

Benediction and grace was delivered by Rev. Williams. Delicious refreshments were prepared and served by Mrs. Shirley Banks and the Helena-West Helena School District Food Service Staff culminated the event.

The Phillips Teachers’ Day Committee includes: Bernestine Williams-Stayton, Chairperson, Vicki King, Co-Chairperson, Annie R. Pike, Chairperson Emeritus, Rev. Leroy Williams, Treasurer, Shelvey Hunter, Secretary.

The committee extends heartfelt gratitude to all the loyal and generous sponsors, schools and program participants who made this 2018 celebration a tremendous success.