Beau McCastlain, a television production teacher at De Queen High School and communications director for the De Queen School District, was named Monday as the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Arkansas Education Secretary Jacob Oliva announced McCastlain's selection in a Monday trip they made to the campus.
McCastlain, who previously received $2,000 for being one of 14 regional finalists and four state semi-finalists in the Teacher of the Year competition, is now going to receive an additional $14,000 from the Walton Family Foundation. He is eligible to apply for the National Teacher of the Year program.
McCastlain will begin his one-year tenure as Arkansas Teacher of the Year on July 1, 2024, and will travel the state for a year promoting his platform and representing teachers. He also will serve as a non-voting member on the state Board of Education.
McCastlain is credited with establishing his school's student-run DQTV television production program and promoting a culture of school pride as his media students highlight their school and community.
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Additionally McCastlain has built partnerships with a local radio station and the Arkansas Broadcasters Association, which have resulted in paid internships and freelance opportunities for his students, and his students have received state and national recognition for their work, the Arkansas Department of Education announced about the 14-year teacher.
McCastlain started his career in 2001 as a photojournalist at KTHV Channel 11 in Little Rock. He also worked for KARK Channel 4, KLRT FOX 16, KHOG/KHBS 40/29 News, and KATV Channel 7.
He has been an educator since 2009 — serving as a teacher, head baseball coach, and assistant football coach in the Foreman School District before moving to the De Queen district.
“Beau McCastlain is everything we could ask for in an Arkansas teacher: someone who puts student success first and foremost, someone who thinks outside the box to get his students excited for their future careers, and someone who leverages his expertise to create new, exciting opportunities in the classroom,” Sanders said in a prepared statement.
"I look forward to working with him as he travels our state to promote expanded Career and Technical Education, as well as the other reforms my administration is making like higher teacher pay, universal education freedom, and science-based literacy teaching,” Sanders said.
"He not only teaches his students the skills of the trade, but he also connects them with real-world opportunities in the community around them," Oliva said in his congratulatory remarks.
McCastlain has a bachelor's degree in communications and a minor in computer information systems from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He has a master's degree in educational leadership and administration from Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia. He is certified to teach social studies for grades seven through 12 and holds a technical permit for television broadcasting.