teacher of the year

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. --  Just two years after implementing the Arkansas Teacher of the Year program within the District, Pulaski County Special School District is thrilled to announce that Ben Light, band teacher at Robinson Middle and High Schools, was selected as a regional finalist in the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year program through the Arkansas Department of Education. 

Light is currently the band director at Joe T. Robinson High School and also teaches band at Joe T. Robinson Middle School, a position he’s held since 2017. Before working in the Robinson feeder, Light worked at four other PCSSD schools including band director at North Pulaski High School when it was part of the District. Prior to working at PCSSD, Light was band director for the DeWitt School District.

“I am honored to be named an Arkansas Teacher of the Year finalist,” said Ben Light upon hearing the news. “Arkansas’ young people are bright and industrious, and I look forward to advocating for and serving all of our kids.”

Dr. Jay Pickering, principal at Joe T. Robinson High, has had the opportunity to work with Light for three years. He points out that Light’s passion for his job is evident in the band program and all student success.

“We are so extremely excited to hear of the news of Mr. Ben Light moving forward as a regional finalist,” Dr. Pickering said. “This honor is a testament to his hard work and dedication to all students In Robinson feeder pattern.”

Jo Ann Koehler, director of fine arts for PCSSD, shared similar thoughts regarding Light. She points out that he is more than just a band teacher to his students.

"He teaches our kids to work together to reach a common goal with respect for each other and themselves in an environment that is safe for them to grow and learn," said Koehler. "He is the kind of teacher that is making the world a better place by the way he is teaching our kids to be, and he is making great bands along the way!"

PCSSD is proud to see Light join the other regional finalists from across the state and represent the best of Arkansas’ educators. The 14 finalists, listed below, will be recognized at an event at the Governor’s Mansion on July 27. The regional finalists will receive a certificate and a $1,000 prize provided by the Walton Family Foundation.

Jacquelyn Briggs
Magnolia School District

Jazmin Carranza
Springdale School District

Nicole Franklin
Fort Smith School District

Candice Groves
Blytheville School District

Elizabeth Hill
DeWitt School District

Kyler Hybeck
West Memphis School District

Jeremy Kennedy
Greenbrier School District

Julie Landrum
Stuttgart School District

Ben Light
PUCO. Special School District

Beau McCastlain
DeQueen School District

Kashandra Murphy
Texarkana School District

Kassadi Seidenschnur
Bryant School District

David Ward
Cedar Ridge School District

Mandy Wolff
Beebe School District

This is the District’s second regional finalist in the past three years. Shanon Hum from Sylvan Hills Middle School was selected as a regional finalist for the 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the year.

The Arkansas Teacher of the Year program participates in the National Teacher of the Year program and recognizes teachers for their outstanding teaching and leadership skills. During the recognition event later this month, the department will announce the four state semi-finalists, and one will be named the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year this fall.