Deborah Coffman, coordinator of professional development for the Arkansas Department of Education, is the recipient of the first J.D. and Mary Lou Mashburn Award presented by the Mashburn Center for Learning at the University of Central Arkansas.  

The J.D. and Mary Lou Mashburn Award recognizes professionals who demonstrate a resolve and commitment to grow and sustain the University of Central Arkansas’ Mashburn Center for Learning mission. A key element of the operating philosophy of the Mashburn Center is to create resources and opportunities that encourage Arkansas educators to promote a sense of purpose, hope, academic achievement, and resilience for learners who struggle as they experience barriers to learning.  

The success of the center can only be realized through the commitment and expertise of many individuals. J.D. and Mary Lou Mashburn founded the Mashburn Center for Learning in 1991. Dr. Mashburn and his family have generously shared their resources to help Arkansas educators work more successfully with struggling learners.

Coffman was recognized for her leadership and work with the Arkansas Adolescent Literacy Intervention. A testimony to Coffman’s leadership involves the participation of many Arkansas school districts in the Arkansas Adolescent Literacy Intervention  including Bentonville, Lincoln, Cabot, Conway, Harrisburg, Magnolia, Monticello, Batesville, Fayetteville, Forrest City, White County Central, De Queen, Harmony Grove, North Little Rock, Ledbetter, McGhee, Beebe, Paragould, Bryant, Paragould, Oscar Hamilton, Camden Fairview, Drew Central, Benton, Greenbrier, Valley View, South Conway County, and a number of private schools. AALI focuses on providing professional development for educators to utilize routines and strategies that enable struggling learners to be successful.  

"Deborah demonstrates the resolve to build and sustain best practices for helping struggling learners," said Dr. Mark Cooper, director of the Mashburn Center for Learning.

Coffman’s colleagues agree that her ideas are a necessity to AALI. Patty Kohler-Evans, coordinator of professional development for the Mashburn Center, and Renee Calhoon, director of the AALI agree. Both stated Coffman insists that a sustainability model for professional learning be integral to AALI.

Coffman said she is honored to receive an award with people who make a difference in the lives of students. 

"As recipient of the Mashburn Award, I share this honor with all the partners who make such a difference in the lives of struggling learners — the UCA Mashburn Center for Learning, the Arkansas Department of Education, districts, schools, and the growing number of Certified Arkansas Professional Developers. These partners represent an outstanding team of educators," she said.