January 2020

Virtual Arkansas

Student of the Month

Kynia Jackson

Star City High School

I would like to recognize Kynia because of her determination and perseverance. She was late in getting access to my Visual Art Appreciation course and was struggling to catch up. Kynia was uncertain about taking an online class and wasn't sure she would do well. She kept in communication with me through Canvas to let me know her progress. She wasn't afraid to ask questions when she needed help and revised assignments when suggested so she could keep her grade up. I am proud of her for sticking with it. She passed my course with an "A"!

Nominated by: Diana Garrison Virtual Arkansas Fine Arts Instructor

Facilitator of the Month

Lisa Cook

Bay High School

About Me:

I am recently (8/1/19) married to David Cook. I have 3 daughters, one granddaughter and one grandson.

Why did you decide to work in education?

I started out working for the school to have a better schedule. I was a Deputy Jailer for Craighead County and the shift was not allowing my youngest daughter to participate in any activities such as t-ball or peewee cheer. I said I would only do it until she graduated. She graduated 4 years ago.

What is the best part about being a facilitator?

I love my kids! They all are my kids from the first day of class to their last.

Where did you grow up?

IPaducah, KY

If you could give your students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Sometimes your plans are not the plans God has for you. If a door keeps closing stop trying to open a window.

Teacher of the Month

Position at Virtual Arkansas:

DYS Visual Art Instructor


Bachelors in Fine Art-Arkansas State University

Tell us a little about your family:

My wife, Anne Marie, and I have 3 cats, whom are Louie, Derpy, and Bernie; and a dog named Roxie.

Where did you grow up?

Jonesboro, AR

Steven Adair

Virtual Arkansas Fine Arts Instructor

Why did you become a teacher?

It was great advice that my mom gave me early on! I really wanted to focus on making my own artwork and cultivate my brand. Her advice was really helpful because it made me look past myself and focus on how I could use my skills to enrich others. So being able to share my experiences with a younger audience and inspire others to make art was the drive to be a teacher.

What is the best part about being a teacher?

Being able to share an art technique or artworks to students who have never been exposed to them prior. So many of our students in DYS have never had the privilege of seeing art firsthand, so to be able to expand their universe by sharing this with them is very special!

If you could give your students one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have a few pieces of advice that I'll share. First is to take time to understand yourself. We all have a natural gift, and the Universe wants us to share that with the world. Take time to look deep within yourself and you will find your purpose. Second is to always be open to learning. Learning new skills is a key that will expand your world immensely!

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A good book read...

In this section of our blog we are sharing what some of our Virtual Arkansas Educators are reading. Each month will have a book review by one of our own! We hope by sharing our love of reading with you, you may find a book to enjoy as well.


Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn

Gather around children and let me tell you a story about the “olden” days. Back before television included channels like LMN and the many Hallmark options, made for T.V. movies aired on syndicated television. During this time, Hallmark produced well-written movies that often starred famous actors. These films would play on a very special Sunday and my mom, sister and I looked forward to this event. One of my favorites of these films was Echo of Thunder based upon the book Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn. Recently I read the book and found, once again, the book is so much better!

Hathorn’s book tells a story about a young girl named Lara whose beautiful mother passes away. Lara is sent to live in the Australian outback with a father she barely knows. Her father, an American, is married to a hardworking Australian woman and they have four children together. Her father must go away for a few months on business leaving her with a stepmother, Gladwyn, who seems cold and distant towards her. Lara is a city girl who is thrown into a world she does not know how to navigate. Her only ally is her six-year-old stepsister Opal. They have an immediate bond.

Gladwyn holds the key to whether or not Lara will ever truly be welcome into her Father’s home. Lara’s situation seems to worsen throughout the book. One day she ventures into the woods and meets a stray dog. She names the dog Thunderwith commemorating the moment they met during a thunderstorm. The dog is a balm to her broken heart and Lara finds strength in her.

There are moments of sorrow and moments of surprise in Hathorn’s book. The author weaves in Aboriginal folklore throughout; we get a glimpse of what it must be like to live on a palm farm in Australia. Tragedy and circumstances create a space for Lara and Gladwyn to grow.

If you enjoy dramatic young adult novels, you will enjoy this book.

Person Sharing: Tara JoslinVirtual Arkansas Position: Instructor | Core Campus

This past summer I had the pleasure of reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, after I heard it recommended in one of the podcasts I frequently listen to. Despite being published nearly 20 years ago, this book is still relevant. Regardless of when you read this, whether your in your 30’s, mid-career, or retirement, the information presented from this is truly timeless.

Prior to reading the book, I often struggled with anxiety and worrisome thoughts. Naturally, I sometimes felt this stress while working. I would worry about future deadlines, struggling students, the stupid thing I said in the meeting last Friday, ect.. Maybe you can relate? In the Power of Now, Tolle points out that the human mind is a constant stream of thoughts, like a never-ending marathon. We often focus on two main things with these thoughts: the past, and the future. Truthfully, these two mindsets are pointless, as we can’t change our past, nor can we completely control the future. When we attempt to change these things or react to them it causes resistance, which leads to pain. Tolle states that the only important time is the one we think about the least: the present. The present moment is when everything happens. Life is literally a series of present moments. Whether we choose to be part of them is our choice.

I loved reading this book because it has really helped me recognize those special moments that we all experience when teaching. When I am teaching a class, if I catch myself not being present, I will refocus my attention. In the present, I feel connected to what drew me to education in the first place. Serving others, encouraging a sense of curiosity, and opening their minds to the joy & fulfillment that can be found in art. When we stay present, we become more aware of how meaningful our work is and the differences we are making for our students.

Person Sharing: Steven AdairVirtual Arkansas Position: Instructor | Core Campus