Deborah Bales has been an Alternative Education Program Advisor with the Arkansas Department of Education since 2012. She monitors and coordinates program development according to best practices, state/federal regulations and law, and she develops and presents specialized training for teachers, and parents. In this capacity, Deborah specializes in community involvement and in alternative education classroom environments. Upon obtaining her BSE in Elementary Education and Special Education (P-12) from Arkansas State University in 1993, she began teaching special education at Melbourne High School in Arkansas, and she eventually began the alternative education program for Melbourne High School in 2005. In 2007, she received her MSE in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University, and became licensed for Building Principal K-12, Curriculum K-12 and Special Education Supervision K-12, and JAG. That year, she became the district’s special education supervisor and 504 coordinator in addition to her work as the AE director and teacher. She was on the board of the Arkansas Association of Alternative Educators as a district representative for 4 years before becoming an assistant advisor to the board. Deborah is also an instructor for Mental Health First Aid for both Adults and Youth, and she is on the Chasing the Dragon Opioid Awareness Committee for Arkansas. In her personal life, Deborah is on the board of Becky’s Kids, a non-profit organization benefiting foster children in Arkansas, and is currently working to develop a system to provide trained volunteer mentors for foster teens across the state of Arkansas. She is a certified volunteer firefighter, first responder and a certified training officer for the Arkansas Fire Academy.