Vickie Beene’s first reaction was surprise when she learned she was one of 14 regional finalists for the Arkansas Teacher of the Year Award. “I was shocked at first because I teach because I love teaching,” she said. “Then, I became humbled and excited.” The 2010-2011 school year is Vickie’s 25th year of teaching reading and English. In addition to teaching almost every school grade from 1st through 11th, she has also taught as an adjunct instructor at Cossatot Community College in Nashville, Ark. She currently serves as Literacy Coach and an 11th grade English teacher at Nashville High School.
Vickie, B.S.E. ’83, said she became an educator because she loves learning and wanted to help students achieve that same love, especially for reading. Her passion began in 2nd grade when she was assigned to “Ms. Williams’” class in an elementary school in St. Louis, Mo. “From day one she instilled in me the beauty of learning. She was a compassionate, yet demanding teacher. I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher just like her,” she said.
After graduating from Henderson with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Vickie worked as a teacher and later earned a Master of Science in Education degree from Southern Arkansas University in 1999 and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Arkansas in 2005.. She said her student teaching experience as a Henderson student was “invaluable,” as she made the transition to having her own classroom.
Since then she has been involved in many committees related to education, including Arkansas Department of Education’s End-of-Level Literacy Testing committee and the Literacy Implementation Team this year. She also has worked with the DeQueen-Mena Cooperative for Nashville High School.
As a finalist for Arkansas Teacher of the Year, Vickie was a guest of honor at a televised gala at the Governor’s Mansion. Although she said it was an “awesome” and “reaffirming” experience, her greatest rewards have been in the classroom: “The rewards of teaching are innumerable, but knowing I have had a part in teaching students to read has to be one of the greatest.”