Salaam Advises Future Teachers to Remain Authentic

Educators Rising Conference Group Photo 2022
Photographed: Dr. Theresa Cullen, coordinator of the Educators Rising regional conference, professor of curriculum and instruction at ATU and head of the ATU Department of Teaching and Educational Leadership; Dr. David Bell, ATU director of educator licensure and support services and professor of curriculum and instruction; Capri Salaam, ATU alumna and 2023 Arkansas teacher of the year; and Dr. Linda Bean, dean of the ATU College of Education and Health.

For her first speaking appearance as the 2023 Arkansas teacher of the year, Capri Salaam returned to the place that took her in as a non-traditional student and provided her with access to a career in education.

Salaam served as keynote speaker for the Educators Rising Region 1 conference at Arkansas Tech University on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

A 2016 ATU graduate with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and an emphasis in middle school education, Salaam has served as a multi-classroom lead teacher in the North Little Rock School District since 2018. She teaches and provides support in instructional practices and classroom management for her fellow teachers at North Little Rock Middle School.

“Students can pick up on fake and phony,” said Salaam while speaking to the Educators Rising conference participants. “They will not buy in. It’s hard to have an alternate personality 190 days per year. You must be who you are, and you have to find fun in the classroom in your own authentic way.”

Approximately 240 students from 17 Arkansas high schools registered to participate in the Educators Rising conference at ATU. According to information provided by the organization, Educators Rising is “a career and technical education movement that aims to inspire high school and college students to serve their communities by entering the field of education.”

Students from Alma High School, Bentonville High School, Bentonville West High School, Dover High School, Elkins High School, Fayetteville High School, Fort Smith Northside High School, Gravette High School, Hackett High School, Magazine High School, Pea Ridge High School, Rogers High School, Rogers Heritage High School, Rogers New Technology High School, Russellville High School, Van Buren High School and Virtual Arkansas gained information about obtaining a teaching license, financial aid opportunities available to future teachers and the outlook for the teaching profession in Arkansas.

Salaam shared with conference participants that she has established a mental health corner for students in her classroom. She conducts weekly mental health check-ins with her students and works to connect them with resources when needed.

She also emphasized the importance of self-care for educators, including taking time for hobbies, developing a support team among colleagues, establishing work-life balance, eating and sleeping well, drinking water and getting adequate exercise.

Salaam’s one-year tenure as Arkansas teacher of the year will begin July 1, 2023. During that time, she will travel the state representing teachers and promoting her platform. Her focus will be on improving the mental health of students and ongoing social-emotional learning. Salaam also will serve as a non-voting member on the Arkansas Board of Education.

To learn more about the ATU College of Education and Health, visit