Twenty-six teachers and seven mentors across the state were honored for their involvement in the Arkansas Declaration of Learning Program’s third year by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education on June 29.

Arkansas is the first state to participate in this national program, according to a news release from the governor’s office, where, through national and state partnerships, sixth through 12th grade librarians and art, English language arts and social studies teachers use historic art and objects from partner museums and libraries to develop lesson plans that focus on the importance of stewardship and civic engagement.

Since the program began in 2013, 110 educators have participated and more than 6,000 students have benefited from the program.

“Through the direct observation of historic objects and our nation’s great works of art, our students are learning the history of our nation and the importance of diplomacy and civic engagement,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in the release. “I am honored that the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms chose Arkansas for the pilot Declaration of Learning project. This has given our teachers the resources to increase opportunities to enhance our students’[s] grasp of history."

Commissioner Johnny Key with the ADE said he was proud of the state’s educators who have dedicated their time and knowledge toward making the program a success.

“Arkansas is the first state in the country to implement this national program, and through our partnerships with other organizations, we have enhanced student learning by providing access to historical objects that are rich in history,” he said. “Together we are transforming Arkansas to lead the nation in student-focused education."

The program was formed in 2013 as part of an inter-agency educational initiative, with representatives from 13 national organizations signing the Declaration of Learning and pledging that the organizations would work with state and local partners to create learning tools for educators and students in middle and secondary education.

Other program partners, in addition to the ADE, are the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and the Clinton Foundation.

The event, which marked the launch of the program’s fourth year by celebrating the 31 teachers and school librarians and nine mentors who spent the week in an immersive summit and will spend the next year implementing the ADOL into their classrooms and school libraries, highlighted the work of year-three participants and featured presentations by three educators who received the Best of the Best award.

To learn more about the program and to see a list of past and current program participants, visit the ADE website at https://bit.ly/2Ig48WQ. The webpage also features a video about the program.