Susanna Post, the math and business technology teacher at Belle Point Alternative Center in Fort Smith, is the Arkansas Teacher of the Year. The award was announced at an assembly Monday (Oct. 19) at the school.
Post comes to the profession from a non-traditional background. She uses the business experience she gathered while working in the oil and gas industry to specialize project-based learning to her classroom and is known for ability to create a positive rapport with students, teachers and administrators, said Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key, who presented Post with the award.
“Susanna Post’s real-life experience in the business world enriches the lessons that she teaches in the classroom,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said via a video statement at the assembly. “The list of programs she leads at Belle Point is evidence that she goes the extra mile. Her students are fortunate that Ms. Post decided to leave the oil and gas industry and return to Arkansas to resume her teaching career. Above and beyond her education and experience, however, she has a heart for her students.”
Post began her teaching career at Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, N.C., in July 2002. Because of a family move, Post temporarily left the classroom and entered the business world. She worked as a petroleum analyst and senior engineering technician at multiple oil and gas companies in Dallas and Fort Worth, and in Fort Smith, prior to returning to the classroom in 2016.
She has taught at Belle Point Alternative Center since August 2016. There, she has co-taught with a senior high school special education teacher, initiated the school’s first coding club, coordinated with district curriculum leaders to create an ACT prep program, facilitated a Lindamood-Bell literacy intervention group and served on the district’s secondary math curriculum development team.
She leads the school’s Culture Project Week, which includes project-based activities that improve school culture by strengthening relationships between students, teachers, and the community. Post was selected for the Class of 2020 Aspiring Leaders Institute and was named the 2020 Fort Smith Teacher of the Year.
“Each year I get the privilege of announcing the Arkansas Teacher of the Year,” Key said. “This is an extremely tough decision, considering all the amazing teachers here in Arkansas. This year, however, one teacher, Ms. Susanna Post, stood out as the best of the best. Her exceptional ability to identify and meet the needs of every student exemplifies teaching excellence and empowers students to rise above all barriers to achieve success. I am extremely excited about Ms. Post’s platform to close the ‘empathy gap,’ which is essential for student engagement and academic achievement.”
Post said she is passionate about the empathy gap.
“I have learned as much from students as they have learned from me. And a lot of that has been centered around empathy and understanding of them and what they need to learn. So I am incredibly excited to share that,” Post said.
Her one-year tenure as Teacher of the Year will begin July 1. During this time, Post will travel the state as a representative for teachers and will serve as a non-voting member on the State Board of Education. She also will travel across the nation with other state teachers of the year as well as the national teacher of the year, said Courtney Cochran, the 2017 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
“Education is the pillar, the key to the future of any city,” said Fort Smith Mayor George McGill, who proclaimed Oct. 19, 2020, Susanna Post day in honor of the award.
“No teacher joins this profession seeking awards. They teach because they love kids and want to make a difference. Because of your hard work I am so excited to recognize you in this way,” McGill said. “You represent the excellent teaching that we strive for at Belle Point and across Fort Smith.”
In addition to being eligible to become the National Teacher of the Year, Post received $14,000 with her award, sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation. She received $1,000 when named a regional finalist and $1,000 when selected as a state semi-finalist.
Post has a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and a master’s degree in rural and urban school leadership from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.