With the arrival of March comes Phillips County's annual Teacher's Day celebration. And this year marks the 71st anniversary of the event that was designed to recognize outstanding teachers throughout the county.

With the arrival of March comes Phillips County’s annual Teacher’s Day celebration. And this year marks the 71st anniversary of the event that was designed to recognize outstanding teachers throughout the county.

The celebration will take place at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 3 at J.F. Wahl Elementary School at 125 Hickory Hill Drive. All active and retired educators from every public and private school in Phillips County will be honored.

National Teachers Day dates back to 1944. Local teacher and administrator Mattye Maye Whyte Woodridge helped found the special day for teachers. A 4-time Outstanding Teacher Award recipient herself, Wooldridge corresponded closely with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, governors and other political officials to get a National Teachers Day established.

The 81st Congress passed a joint resolution proclaiming that the first Tuesday of March each year be set aside to honor all teachers in the United States.

At the official proclamation signing ceremony, Woodridge declared, “I am so happy for this day!”

As in the past, student participation includes the traditional art and lyric contests under the direction of the Great Rivers Educational Cooperative. With the supervision of their teachers, all students are encouraged to participate. Prizes will be awarded. Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. is the deadline to enter the art and lyrics competition.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, Phillips County Judge Don Gentry will sit down with local teachers and educators for the official signing of the 2015 Teachers’ Day Proclamation. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the courthouse. The public is invited and urged to attend.

Ross Bell and members of Sphinx Temple No. 25 and the Order of the Eastern Star will present a special “Happy Teachers’ Day” cake at the March 3 festivities.

The celebration will feature several special acknowledgements including:

• Dr. Becky Hall, executive director of UAMS East presenting the Teacher of the Year from each Phillips County school district and private school

•The announcement of the Art and lyric contest winners

•The presentation of the Eliza Miller Alumni Award

•The presentation of the 2014 Mattye Mae Whyte Woodridge Scholarship of $500 to Paige Parker, a Barton-Lexa graduate, who is pursuing an education degree at Phillips College; and

•Special recognition of Kevonshaye Stackhouse as a Scholastic Achiever and for her 52-point performance on the basketball court.

Leo Chitman, an advocate for National Teachers’ Day and strong supporter of Wooldridge’s efforts, will provide a motivational tribute to all the special guests of honors – the teachers. Chitman served as program coordinator for the Memphis Education Association when Memphis City Schools Superintendent Willie Herenton honored its teachers and Woodridge with a banquet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel several years ago. He is a retired educator from Arkansas and Tennessee schools and holds the distinction of being the first black mayor of the city of West Memphis.

The entire community is requested to set aside this day on their calendars and make plans to attend this very special event to honor all teachers. The celebration also will feature music, fellowship, door prizes and refreshments.