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About Don


Don currently lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas with his beautiful wife, Brandie Benton.  They have two

wonderful children and a grand baby. Brandie and Don share a passion for educational technology,
learning, travel, and adventure. 
They love to travel abroad while dragging their friends and family with
them at every opportunity in an 
effort to expose them to the great big world.


As the Co-founder/Director of Schools Without Walls (SWOW) and former Director of Hot Springs Technology

Institute (HSTI), Don has worked for many years to facilitate and deliver quality educational

integration strategies to educators throughout the state of Arkansas. He works to provide current information
different grade levels and content areas with emphasis on educational technology infusion, innovative tools,
resources.  Don is always willing to share his knowledge with others and believes that collaboration is

essential for success.  The members of various organizations have enjoyed his presentations on a variety of educational infusion topics for many years. For 10 years, he served as an Assistant Professor at Henderson State University where he impacted higher-ed in the field of Educational Leadership by transforming the traditional leadership programs completely online to meet the demands of the 21st century learners.  Don has received the honor of Arkansas Association of Instructional Media - Technology Leader of the Year two times in 2002 and 2013 for his work in educational technology leadership throughout the state of Arkansas in K-12 education.  Henderson State University recognized Don for the Faculty Excellence in Scholarly or Creative Activity Award in 2011-2012.  Most recently, Don was recognized by the Arkansas Society of Education with the Technology Leadership Award for Arkansas in 2018 and he has been inducted into the Arkansas Academy of Computing in 2020.


With education and technology ever-changing, Don recognizes the need for quality technology professional development throughout the school year.  After getting input from multiple technology stakeholders around the state, he and his team founded Schools Without Walls (SWOW) which is a team of professional development experts that give educators opportunities to share best practices in education in and out of their classrooms with resources for virtual, blended, and mobile technology integration.  SWOW focused on the ISTE Standards for technology, Teacher Excellence Support System – TESS, infusion of iOS Apps and Google Apps in K-12 and Higher Education.  Don also directed the Hot Springs Technology Institute for 25 years before moving to the Arkansas Department of Education as the Assistant Commissioner for Research and Technology.  Through both state conferences, he has been instrumental in facilitating and developing educational innovation and technology training for thousands of Arkansas educators and will carry that experience throughout the state while working for all educators and students at ADE-DESE.


Don's recent appointment to serve Arkansas as the Assistant Commissioner of Research and Technology for the Arkansas Department of Education will allow him to serve by overseeing the statewide PowerSchool eSchoolPLUS Student Management System, Technology Resources and Initiatives, TEAM Digital (Digital Learning Unit), educational technology grants, and Educational Service Cooperative Technology Leadership teams.  He also serves on various task forces and committees as assigned by the Governor and Commissioner of Education: ADE Legislative Team, ADE - HRS and PLC teams, The Digital Learning Task Force, ESSA Report Card Steering Committee, Virtual Arkansas, liaison with Department of Information Systems and much more.  In this role, he oversees 50+ team members and over $30m in division funds and grants.

He currently serves as an adviser to Arkansas' largest educational conference, Hot Springs Technology Institute, held each summer during June – and formerly directed the Schools Without Walls conference held each fall in November – by bringing professional development experts together to prepare more than 1000 educators annually for the future of education and technology integration.  He continues work as an Erate adviser by serving the needs of private and public sector entities.  Don is a graduate of Henderson State University with a B.S.E. in Vocational Business Education - 1994, M.S.E. in Educational Leadership - 2003 and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership - 2013.  He is currently completing his second Ed.S. in Educational Technology at Boise State University (expected 2021).  Don has been involved in the field of education throughout his entire career while serving as a middle and high school teacher, building level administrator, district level administrator, university professor, and state level decision-maker.

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