DE QUEEN, Ark. – A De Queen High School journalism teacher is now the one making headlines after he was named Arkansas Teacher of the Year during a surprise visit from the governor Monday.

Beau McCastlain is a Career and Technical Education teacher at the school. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, joined by Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva, presented the 14-year teacher with a $14,000 check, commemorating his accomplishment.

McCastlain, a former broadcast photojournalist, teaches television production. He also organizes intern and freelance opportunities in the broadcast industry for students.

A University of Central Arkansas graduate, he began teaching in 2009. He also has a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Administration from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.

Both the governor and Oliva cited McCastlain’s ability to help students today while preparing them for tomorrow. 

“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.

“McCastlain shares his passion and experience in the news industry to prepare his students for careers beyond high school.” “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 added

McCastlain is a member of multiple organizations, including the National School Public Relations Association, its Arkansas chapter the ArkaNSPRA and the Association for Career and Technical Education. He is a regional board member for the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association and a professional advisor for Skills USA.

He had previously been named the De Queen High School Teacher of the Year and De Queen Public Schools Teacher of the Year for 2022-2023.

McCastlain’s $14,000 presentation was sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation. He has previously been awarded $1,000 when he was named a regional finalist for the award, and a second $1,000 when he was named a semifinalist.

He is now eligible to apply for the National Teacher of the Year.

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’s tenure in journalism included broadcast photographer and reporter for KARK and FOX 16 and other regional television stations. In his initial move into teaching, he was also a baseball and football coach.