Picture of Laura Pink Antioch ES receiving the North Arkansas College Distinguished Alumni Award.

Laura Pink, Antioch Elementary School, Named North Arkansas College Distinguished Alumni

-    Story shared from North Arkansas College website

It is not uncommon to see helicopters landing in a back field near Laura Pink’s third-grade classroom, stirring up dust clouds much to the delight of the awe-struck students.  Since she was a child growing up in Mountain Home, Arkansas, Pink has been fascinated with flying.  There is something about a plane gliding through the air that makes her happy.

Pink combines her love of teaching with her love of flight to form a unique gifted inclusion program at Antioch Elementary School in Crestview.

“Living in this area where there are so many military bases has allowed me to use many resources revolving around aviation and engineering,” she said. “This is my eighth year to incorporate aeronautics/aerospace education in my curriculum as the school’s science chair. I do this through hands-on experiments within the classroom and bringing in military engineers to inspire the students and reinforce lessons that I have taught.”

In addition to her experiments, Pink has brought famous aviation personalities to school assemblies and military pilots dressed in uniform to welcome parents and students at the entrances.  She also made it possible for students to see airplanes and helicopters up close.

It is that innovation that has earned Pink this year’s North Arkansas College Distinguished Alumnus Award, which recognizes graduates for their outstanding accomplishments in their respective fields.

Pink attended North Arkansas College from 1979 to 1982 before transferring to Arkansas State University, where she received a bachelor of science degree in education.  Pink initially considered a career in commercial art but later decided she wanted to teach.

After earning her degree, Pink taught special education for nine years at the Mountain Home School District and six years of gifted education in Norfork and Mountain Home.

Pink’s adventurous side led to a move to Crestview, where she has been for the past 11 years at Antioch Elementary School, teaching fourth grade, gifted K-5 and currently gifted inclusion.

Pink, a member of the Civil Air Patrol, Aeronautic and Aerospace Association and Air Force Association, said her goal is to make science fun for her students.

“Coordinating special programming for students and educators alike has been a blessing to my heart,” she said. “I was able to see the excitement in the students and teachers regarding science. I have been helping other Crestview elementary schools and schools throughout the county become more involved in science through aviation and engineering.”

Pink’s success in the classroom has led to numerous awards.  She was named the Hurlburt AFA Chapter 398 Elementary School Teacher of the Year in 2012, Air Force Teacher of the Year in 2012, Civil Air Patrol Florida Wing Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year in 2013, United States Southwest Region Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year in 2013 and Civil Air Patrol ACE National Teacher of the Year in 2014.  She also received the Outstanding Public Service Award and Air Force Exceptional Citation.

Pink said she would advise college students to get a degree and keep an open mind about potential careers.

“Do not be afraid to take chances and step out of your comfort zone,” she said. “If you do this, you will never know where you may end up, what you may be doing and who you will touch shoulders with. But I can guarantee you that you will feel it in your spirit that it has been a ‘meant to be’ blessing. Also, a small college in a small town is a great place to start learning networking and resources through peers, your instructors and community.”

Pink said teachers throughout her childhood nurtured her, and she wants to pay it forward.

“I learned early on in life that school is the best place for many children to have someone to believe in them, encourage them to never give up and let them feel free to pursue areas of interest to them,” she said. “That is why I teach, and that is why I remain a teacher.”