The Arkansas Department of Education named four finalists — including a teacher from Conway Public Schools — as contenders for state Teacher of the Year.

Alicia Francis, an English teacher at Conway Junior High School, is among the top teachers in the state, according to a news release from the department.

Teachers are selected based on their teaching skills and their dedication to students, parents and colleagues; demonstrated school and community leadership; ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and their commitment to their profession.

"These extraordinary state finalists are a testament to teachers across our state who are changing lives every day through their dedication, talent and service to our students," Commissioner of Education Tom Kimbrell said in a news release. "We want to congratulate these individuals, and we look forward to recognizing their success and celebrating their work."

The state plans to pay tribute to the teachers in November.