QUITMAN -- Kathy Brantley's first year at Quitman Elementary School will conclude with a bang.

Brantley, a first  grade teacher, received the Arkansas Rural Education Teacher of the Year award Thursday.

The association is a statewide organization that promotes quality experiences and opportunities for students. The association is dedicated to improving instruction and promoting quality education. 

Brantley received the award during an assembly at Bulldog Complex before students were recognized for a 100 percent improvement on the IStation test.

"I was very surprised, didn't have any idea that I was going to receive an award," Brantley said. "My co-workers kept it quiet. I was shocked when they called my name. I feel honored to receive the award."

Quitman Elementary School Principal Julie Wallace said Brantley is deserving of the award.

"She is a teacher leader and helps other teachers by sharing strategies," Wallace said. "She stays after school and works with students who need extra help. She doesn't ask for anything in return and goes beyond what she needs to do. She is very focused on helping students learn."

Wallace said Brantley is one of the reasons for the students' success.

"I'm excited about her winning the award," Wallace said. "It's a big deal. She represents our school well."

Brantley is completing her eighth year in education and said her first year at Quitman could not have been better.

"I'm blessed with great leadership by fellow teachers and our administration," Brantley said. "I believe all of the teachers should share this award because we work so well together."

Wallace also was proud of the students' accomplishment on the IStation test.