Arkansas Achievers

Melissa Spence, first grade teacher at Theodore Jones Elementary School and Conway Public Schools' District Teacher of the Year, is now one of four semifinalists for the 2020 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. "It is so exciting for Melissa to be chosen as a finalist," said Dr. Greg Murry. "She is so deserving of this honor and no doubt she will compare very favorably with the other candidates. Mrs. Spence is a great example of the quality of people in our district who serve our students well."

Amanda McWhirt, extension commercial horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has been named among the 2019 Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40. The honor is bestowed by the Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News magazines. "It is an honor to be named as a member of this group and to receive this recognition," McWhirt said. "I am very proud to represent the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture among this dedicated group of people working to grow the fruit and vegetable industry."

Thea Elise Wakeford-Wesman, Malena Austerslaatt, Tilde Bocker, Kellie Gachaga and Sydney Scraba, members of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's golf team, were named Women's Golf Coaches Association All-America Scholars for the 2018-19 season. The selections for Little Rock are the most of any Sun Belt Conference school as nearly 1,100 golfers from across all levels of collegiate athletics were recognized. The half-dozen selections also set a new program record for the Trojans, which had five golfers selected in 2018, 2017, 2015 and 2014.

Debra Banks, loan officer and marketing manager at the Arkansas Teachers Federal Credit Union, received the Bill Miller Award in recognition of her long-standing leadership and support of the Community Development Institute, which includes 18 years of service as a CDI Year 2 class director. She was also the CDI 2000 Year 3 class Ernest Whitelaw Award winner, and she is an advocate and poet laureate.

Brian Walker, Ph.D., with the Myeloma Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has received a $542,486, three-year grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to look at changes in the DNA sequence that affect the development and advancement of multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in the blood.

Arkansas Achievers is an opportunity to give recognition to Arkansans for their achievements.

Civilian and military achievements are accepted.

Please follow these guidelines:


1) Must be an Arkansan or have graduated from a school in Arkansas.

2) Received an award, scholarship, medal or promotion.

Pageants, deans' lists, graduations or military enlistments are not accepted.

No photographs please.

To submit an Achiever email us at [email protected] with the words "Arkansas Achievers" in the subject line.

Metro on 08/11/2019