Sunday, November 20, 2011

In Gratitude: Who Are You Thankful For?

One of my favorite moments at the 2011 MAEA Conference was the Awards Ceremony acceptance speech given by Barbara Rensenhouse. Barbara received the MAEA Distinguished Service Award. She has been a mentor for innumerable art teachers over her many years at Western Michigan University. Retired in 1991, she is well up in age but her words were sharp and on the mark as she urged us to affirm others for their work in the field. As we were honoring her, she was urging us to honor others.

This week I came across an article in the September issue of Art Education (the NAEA Journal) by Elizabeth Delacruz. She too, was giving an acceptance speech for an award, receiving the 2011 Ziegfeld award. In this speech, she lays out four frameworks to guide our thinking as art educators. What resonated with me was her idea that we should “take on an entrepreneurial disposition, referring to both an outlook and a cluster of behaviors. This ability:
    • to understand particular needs in particular contexts
    • to discern meaningful patterns
    • to think big
    • to innovate
    • to envision something new and useful
    • to conceptualize, design, and carry forward concrete plans of action with specific intended outcomes.
These are the skills and dispositions we hope to foster in our students.” These are 21st Century Skills.

Also recognized at the 2011 Conference was Kim Cairy, outgoing MAEA president, who was honored as the MAEA Middle Level and overall Art Educator of the Year. In her tenure as President, Kim embodied these dispositions. She is an exceptional leader. I have been so impressed with her. She is a parent, a teacher and a leader. She moves easily from one role to the other. When she first came into office I still remember receiving a card that she had hand-made urging us to think outside of the box. She is a big thinker and an innovator, yet humble and personally attentive to others’ needs. Thank you, Kim, for giving so much of yourself to the organization.

Who has influenced you in your art teaching and thinking? A mentor teacher or college professor? Someone you’ve never met but whose books or blogs you avidly read? Who do you want to thank?

During this season of Thanksgiving, please take the time to comment below and honor those who have helped shape you as an artist/educator, thanking them for their influence and help.


  1. I am thankful for all of my twitter friends (@fugelfun, @iansands, @theresamcgee, @Teidemania, @ArtLadyHBK, @MsLauren3,and more) - their constant support and ideas help propel my energy and efforts in 140 characters or less! I am also thankful for Christine Waters at UM-Flint, who helped me figure out my way through the Art Ed program starting over a decade ago...

  2. I am thankful for my fellow art tweachers and members of the PLN #NTLB! (@fugelfun, @iansands, @jean999, @theresamcgee, @teidemania, @smelvin, @greeneyegal @cr82rl8 and many more) who continue to share their inspiration, creativity and input on all #arted posts! Thank you @campellartsoup for a wonderful way to share some inspiration and thanks to fellow art teachers!

  3. Like Janine and Holly I too am very thankful for all the wonderful, creative Twitters friends that make up our ever-growing PLN (#PosseLN #NTLB). All these members are always willing to share new ideas, help each other with problems, collaborate on projects, and most importantly support each other. As a team we can accomplish so much more for our students.
    I am also very thankful for a special teacher who sparked my love of art and teaching when I was 14yrs old. Nick DiGioia was my high school art teacher and became my mentor, my hero, and most importantly my friend. He is still an inspirational art teacher who cares very deeply for each student he encounters. He taught me so very much about art and about being the kind of teacher I wanted to be. I'm thankful that he is a colleague in the school district I teach in and that my elementary students are able to learn from him as they reach the high school level.

    ~~Theresa (greeneyegal on Twitter)

  4. I am thankful for those MAEA members who have set high standards along with being mentors and friends. Harvey, Kim, Cyndi, Madeline, Marilyn, Marianna, Mary G..... the list could really go on for a very long time.. Claudia, Anne, Cat. Then there are those student teachers who all have jobs and expected me to be the best I could. They made me better.

  5. I am thankful for my HS art teacher, Miss Regina Salamin! She really taught me a lot in everything and inspired me as a shy soft-spoken, selfconscious 16 year old to go ahead take on the world!