Southwest Teacher Named Regional Teacher of the Year Finalist

Jazmin Carranza is one of 14 regional finalists for the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year award.

“I never thought that I would be Springdale's representative for Teacher of the Year, let alone a regional finalist for Arkansas,” Carranza said. “When I found out that I was a regional finalist, tears ran down my face from gratitude.”

Carranza teaches algebra at Southwest Junior High School, where she’s taught her entire 15 years as an educator.

“I always wanted to be a teacher to inspire my students to follow their dreams and to tell them that there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of their goals,” she said. “I had many hardships growing up, language barrier, poverty, depression, and I wanted to give up on my goal to graduate college. My parents always encouraged me to work hard and persevere. Thanks to God and to them, I became a teacher, my dream goal. That has been my ultimate prize.”

Carranza and other regional finalists will be honored July 27 at the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock, according to an Arkansas Department of Education news release. Each will receive a certificate and a $1,000 prize provided by the Walton Family Foundation.

"Congratulations to these teachers for achieving this honor," said Jacob Oliva, Arkansas Department of Education secretary, in the release. "We are proud to recognize excellence in teaching and honor those selected for this recognition."

Four state semifinalists will be chosen at the July 27 event, according to the release. The 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year will be named in the fall.

Carranza’s selection as a regional finalist isn’t a first for Springdale Schools. Nine Springdale teachers have progressed to be among the four finalists statewide since 2010.

Springdale teacher Joel Lookadoo was named teacher of the year in 2020 as an instructional facilitator at Don Tyson School of Innovation. Lookadoo is now assistant principal at Lakeside Junior High School.

Carranza said she never imagined she’d become a regional Arkansas Teacher of the Year finalist.

“I work with so many awesome and talented teachers. We all deserve this recognition. I have been given a great opportunity and honor to represent the Springdale School District,” she said. “I am carrying a little part of my school, district, community and family with me as I receive this award. We all won!”

Carranza attended Central Junior High School, is a 2003 graduate of Springdale High School and holds two degrees from the University of Arkansas.

The educator is married with three children who attend Westwood Elementary SchoolHelen Tyson Middle School and Don Tyson School of Innovation.