By Tammy Moore Teague
Spanish teacher, Becky Yates, will say adios after teaching 25 years at Mansfield Schools. Yates plans to retire after the 2018 school year.
Yates is originally from Memphis, Tennessee. She attended Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, AR. It was the same university her parents attended and also where she met her husband, Donald Yates. The couple married and moved to Fort Smith to find employment at Rheem and Whirlpool. A few years later they both decided to go back to school and enrolled at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. During this time they became new parents and the young family was in financial strain. “We made by on loans and scholarships,” Yates said.
Yates graduated magna cum laude with a B.S.E. degree and a double major in English and Spanish. “I was drawn to Spanish because I had worked with the Cuban refugees who were stationed at Fort Chaffee in 1980,” Yates said. After graduation, she worked as a teacher in Oklahoma and in New Jersey. When they returned to this area, she got a job teaching at Cedarville High School. In 1993 Mansfield wanted to add Spanish to their curriculum. They contacted Yates about applying for the position. Initially the district planned for her to teach both English and Spanish. That was short-lived, however, as high enrollment called for her to teach the foreign language full time. In 2001 Yates received her Masters Degree in ESL from ATU. She has added teaching English to non-native speakers over the past few years. 2018 marks Yates 30th year of teaching, with 25 of those being at Mansfield Schools.
Her husband, Donald, is the owner of Yates Engineering Services, and does industrial electrical design all over the United States. Also, he is a Mansfield alumnus from the class of 1974. Together they have two sons, Jeremy and Justin. Both are MHS graduates and are married to hometown alumni. Jeremy and Andrea Yates live in Bentonville. He is the Assistant Principal at Bentonville West, and she is a Speech Pathologist in an elementary school. They have two children. Justin is a fire protection and safety engineer who works for Cinncinnati Insurance, and his wife, Tarah, works as a director for another insurance company. They have recently moved to Bentonville, and they have one son.
In addition to teaching Spanish, Yates has been the Language Arts Department Head, Student Council Sponsor, Foreign Language Club sponsor, and district Teacher of the Year. She developed and served as sponsor of the Model United Nations program for 20 years. Professionally, she has served the last decade as a Pathwise mentor for many new Mansfield teachers.
“I have been proud and honored to be a teacher here, and there is no doubt that I will miss my students,” Yates said. “They continue each day to delight and surprise me.” Yates added that she has taught well over 3,000 students. “I am now teaching the children of my former students. My greatest hope is that I have made a positive contribution to their lives.” Yates said her goals have always been to bring her students an understanding and appreciation of different cultures, languages, peoples, and open up the world around them. Additionally, she said it was her hope that her students realize “that we all are more alike than different, and to treat each other with kindness, dignity, and respect.”
Yates concluded that she will miss her co-workers and administrators. “The Mansfield community is fortunate to have so many caring, selfless educators teaching their children. They do not hesitate to go the extra mile for them, and they truly care for the kids. I am witness to this commitment each and every day. Together we have shared the good times and the bad, and they have always been so supportive of me. I want to especially thank my principals, Dr. Jim Best and Tina Smith, who have allowed me the freedom to teach to the very best of my ability. I also want to thank the people of the Mansfield School district for giving me the opportunity to be your children’s teacher. It has been a great joy for me to be a part of their lives and a part of this community for so long.”
Upon retirement, Yates will be helping to care for her family and spend more time with her grandchildren. Yates said she and her husband plan to continue traveling, and exploring new places together. “My sister in law is from France, and I would like to visit there with her as well.” In addition to the travel she has some new project ideas. “I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that the Good Lord has promised us that He has plans for us, plans for our good with a future full of hope, so I look forward to what He has in store for me,” Yates concluded.