Three UAFS Grads Named to High Reliability Teacher Cohort

Kyle Bates in his Spradling Elementary classroom. 

The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith School of Education recently celebrated three of its graduates for being named among the first recipients of the 2020-2021 High Reliability Teacher (HRT) Cohort for Arkansas program.


Kyle Bates and Hannah Sandifer, both of Fort Smith, and Joshua Bogdon of Harrison secured three of the program’s 15 seats.


“I am so proud of these UAFS graduates,” said Dr. Monica Riley, executive director for the UAFS School of Education. “We teach our students to become change agents in the schools where they serve. Seeing the names of these students featured in the commissioner’s memo on Nov. 3 confirmed for us what we already knew: UAFS graduates are making a difference in the lives of the children of Arkansas.”


Participants in the HRT Cohort for Arkansas receive intensive support as they implement and deepen their understanding of student learning and instructional teaching strategies. They now have the opportunity to complete the HRT Level I and II certifications which qualify an educator to earn the Master Teacher Professional designation.


“As a teacher I quickly realized that it takes a lot of time and practice to really get good at the job,” said Bates, who graduated UAFS in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. “I want the exposure and scrutiny to become a hardened and enlightened educator.”


Bates works full time as a fifth and sixth grade math and science teacher at Spradling Elementary School in Fort Smith. He believes the HRT program will help him become a more effective teacher for his students. Bates also participated in numerous committees and provided services to the Arkansas State Department of Education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I think this program will help me learn how to better assess my students and their needs to take their learning to the next level,” said Sandifer, a 2014 graduate with a degree in early childhood education. “I hope to learn how to better formatively assess my students to help me plan better lessons.”


Sandifer teaches first and fourth grades for the Greenwood Public Schools Virtual Bulldog Online Learning Program. Since graduating from UAFS, she has also received a master’s degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University. 


The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) recognizes the critical role of teacher efficacy in student achievement, and the Master Teacher Professional designation is one opportunity ADE has established to reward excellent teachers and keep their talents in the classroom.


“I joined the HRT program because I was eager to be a part of the process that is so complimentary to professional learning communities,” said Bogdon, who received a bachelor’s in middle childhood education from UAFS in 2014. “They both focus on data, research, collaboration and student learning. Even with COVID-19 I feel that my experience as an educator in 2020 has been the best year yet. My main goal has been to be a model for my children and students.”


Bogdon is a full-time fifth and sixth grade STEM teacher also at Spradling Elementary. While at UAFS he was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society for education.


The Childhood Education Program at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith provides undergraduates the opportunity to successfully become professional educators. 


Students who return to earn a graduate degree have the opportunity to pursue the Master of Education Program, which offers in-state and border state tuition as well as the chance to obtain the Alumni Legacy Scholarship.


For more information on the education programs at UAFS, go to the School of Education website at or contact Dr. Monica Riley or 479-788-7912.

Samantha Contreras
Date Posted: 
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
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