The Arkansas Department of Education announced the kick off of its Teach Arkansas campaign during a special event at the University of Central Arkansas Feb. 2.

According to a news release, Teach Arkansas is designed to recruit, retain and support teachers within the state, and encourage those who may have left the profession, to return.

The announcement took place during the 2018 Impacting Tomorrow Summit, where about 450 Arkansas high school juniors and seniors in the Arkansas Teacher Cadet program gathered at UCA to learn more about pursuing teaching as a career.

Throughout the day, the group of students from more than 40 high schools across the state attended sessions on transitioning to college, what studying education is like and emerging technologies in the field of education.

“We work with higher education to get you the opportunities to put you on the path to become the kind of teacher that a 5-year-old, that 10-year-old, that 15-year-old is going to need,” Johnny Key, the education commissioner, said.

Throughout the year, Jeff Dyer, program advisor for teacher recruitment and retention at the Arkansas Department of Education, said the program aims to offer activities like Praxis workshops and promote the hashtag #TeachArkansas.

“What we want to do is promote the profession and also show support but do some hands-on things, as well in addition to the campaign,” Dyer said.

Alexandria Slater, a Dumas High School senior with an interest in teaching family and consumer science at the high school level, said the summit taught her more about issues like teacher shortages in the state.

“We live in the Delta, and we really don’t have a lot of teachers,” Slater said. “We have new teachers every year. So for me to be able to come back to my hometown or somewhere close, that really can probably make a difference.”

Linsley Adams, a Hamburg High School senior who plans to attend UCA this fall, said the summit exposed him to different perspectives.

“It opens students’[s] eyes to what they could do with this career,” he said. “It’s not just showing them what a teacher is, it’s showing them the benefits: being able to get closer to the community, helping out students, showing the path to a better community.”

For more information on the Impacting Tomorrow Summit and Teach Arkansas, visit the Arkansas Department of Education.