Region 8 Teacher of the Year announced; Scholarship Salute final - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Region 8 Teacher of the Year announced; Scholarship Salute finalists named

Haley Deck is named Region 8 Teacher of the Year. (Source: KAIT-TV) Haley Deck is named Region 8 Teacher of the Year. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Region 8 Teacher of the Year finalists join Scholarship Salute winners. (Source: KAIT-TV) Region 8 Teacher of the Year finalists join Scholarship Salute winners. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Brittany Pharis receives her keepsake check from KAIT-TV. (Source: KAIT-TV) Brittany Pharis receives her keepsake check from KAIT-TV. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Diana Davis performed emcee duties at the Region 8 Teacher of the Year/Scholarship Salute program. (Source: KAIT-TV) Diana Davis performed emcee duties at the Region 8 Teacher of the Year/Scholarship Salute program. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Educators, families and scholarship winners filled the Fowler Center at Arkansas State University. (Source: KAIT-TV) Educators, families and scholarship winners filled the Fowler Center at Arkansas State University. (Source: KAIT-TV)
JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -

The loss of her two-year-old child and unborn baby did not deter the Region 8 Teacher of the Year from going back to the profession she loves.

A standing ovation from more than 80 students, educators and family members greeted the news at the Fowler Center at Arkansas State University. Haley Deck resumed teaching her kindergarten students in December after losing her one-year-old daughter, Finley, and unborn baby named, Sage, in September.

She and her husband, Blake, and daughter were in a stopped car when they were hit from behind by a vehicle traveling 65 miles per hour. The impact was too much—even with seat belts. But, the Paragould community rallied around the couple. Teachers and parents showed their support.

"They have just continued to encourage us throughout all of it and it has been quite the journey," Haley Deck said. "But we appreciate all of the people that have been on it with us." Deck received a plaque and $500 for being named Region 8 Teacher of the Year.

Region 8 Scholarship Salute winners are Brittany Pharis, Gwendolyn Daniels, Cody Preston, Kaicie Spencer and Hattie Milligan. The five valedictorians were tasked with writing an essay on what would make this "A Better Region 8."  

Brittany Pharis has a special place in her heart for healthcare. According to her essay, she has seen firsthand, the value that healthcare providers hold and has made it her mission to care for the residents of Region 8. Brittany is the daughter of Dwayne and Bobbie Pharis of Tyronza. She is a graduate of Marked Tree High School and plans to major in Nursing. 

Hattie Milligan recognizes the importance of sign language and wants to encourage others to consider the daily lives of our deaf citizens. She expresses in her essay that a very important place to accommodate them is at church. Hattie is the daughter of Jon and Sara Milligan of Lake City. She is a graduate of Riverside High School and plans to major in Biology. 

Kaicie Spencer also has a passion for health care. As stated in her essay, she knew from the young age of five, pretending that her dolls were her patients, that she wanted to make a difference by caring for others. Kaicie is the daughter of Michelle Rouse and Richard Spencer of Arbyrd, Missouri. She graduated from Southland High School in Cardwell and plans to major in Nursing. 

Cody Preston is passionate about the arts. He sees theatre as a way to bring the community together—giving everyone a sense of connection and a refuge for those searching for joy. Cody is the son of Jeff and Stephanie Preston of Bono. He is a graduate of Westside High School and plans to major in Theatre. 

Gwendolyn Daniels strives to bring awareness to schools about the importance of proper sex education, its associated risks, and teen pregnancy. As her essay pointed out, she wants teens to be equipped with adequate knowledge so that they can make informed and healthy decision. Gwendolyn is the daughter of Matt and Rhonda Daniels of Beebe. She is a graduate of Beebe High School and plans to major in Political Science and proceed to Law School.

Teachers in the running for the Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018 were Natasha Turner of Hillcrest Tech in Strawberry, Morgan Despain of Brookland Elementary, Grant Harbison of Jonesboro High School, Mark Sparks of Batesville High School, Curtis Adams of Valley View Intermediate, Candice Thorne of Cave City Elementary, Laurie Mock of Park Elementary in Corning, and Jalisa Milligan of Cave City Elementary. 

Awards for the Region 8 Teacher of the Year and the Scholarship Salute are made possible by SubTeach USA, Supreme Lending, Greenway Equipment, Bayird Auto Group, Jonesboro City Water and Light, All-Clean and Century Finance. 

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