Theodore Jones Elementary teacher Randi House has been named as the 2018 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
House was surprised by members of the Arkansas Department of Education, district officials, school board members, her peers and more during a ceremony at the school Friday.
The event began with Superintendent Greg Murry reading a book to the students in the school’s cafeteria and once he was finished, special guests entered the room surprising House, who had no idea she was selected.
House said when she saw everybody walk in it didn’t register what was going on but then when it hit her she broke down.
"I knew what they were [there for]," she said. "Seeing that support just completely overwhelmed me in that moment."
House said when she was chosen as Theodore Jones’s Teacher of the Year and then district then regional she was thrilled, but being named state-wide was never on her radar.
"When I got top four, I thought ‘Oh my goodness this is amazing,’ so this is just … you know," she said.
Being chosen means a lot to House, she said.
"It’s very empowering," she said. "Teaching can sometimes be a little bit of thankless job so to have this spotlight like this, it warms my heart and it really means something to me."
House said she is excited for the opportunity to travel and tell her stories and the ones that belong to her students, hear from others and see where this unique journey leads her.
As to the $14,000 check she received as an award, she said that might be spent on a vacation.
Overall, she said she is thankful for the support she has received from her school and everyone that attended the ceremony.
During the ceremony, Mayor Bart Castleberry also read a proclamation and declared Sept. 29, 2017, as Randi House Day in Conway.
"This is first a wonderful day for a very special teacher who makes a difference in the lives of kids everyday," Murry said. "We are very proud of [House]. Could not be prouder, but it’s also a very special day for all the teachers in Conway because she’s representing all the teachers here in Conway and all the great work that they do."
He said House will finish out this academic year teaching and next year will take a sabbatical to work with the Arkansas Department of Education doing various functions for them.
"We are very, very pleased with Randi and know she is going to do a great job throughout the state [during] the next year," Murry said.
In addition to the state honor, House also qualifies for candidate for National Teacher of the Year as well.