Courtney Owen, a River Ridge Elementary School art teacher, was recently named the 2007 Outstanding Teacher in Visual Art by the Morris Museum of Art and Wachovia Corp.
"She is a wonderful educator, and we're very proud that she has received this award," said Drew Brown, the associate curator for education services at the Morris Museum.
Owen was selected for the honor by a panel of judges based on her curriculum, encouragement of creative learning and innovative teaching methods.
"She is a visual arts teacher, but her teaching is very academically based," Brown said. "At the same time the students are expressing themselves in a creative manner, they are learning so many different concepts."
Owen's application included a student lesson plan that was inspired by artwork in the Morris Museum collection and digital images of her pupils' creations.
Owen said her pupils based their projects on the work of George Andrews, a folk artist from Madison.
A University of Georgia graduate who attended Columbia County schools from fourth through 12th grades, Owen said she did not have an elementary school art teacher. However, art always has been a part of her life.
"It's just something I've always done. When I was little, you could give me crayons and a piece of paper, and I was content for hours," she said.
She said art provides children with a creative outlet and another way to look at the world. She also incorporates vocabulary lessons and exposure to different cultures into her curriculum.
"I'm kind of a 2-D girl. I like anything flat. I like to draw and paint. I also dabble in photography," Owen said.
She taught a number of different art forms to her pupils.
Not only did they draw and paint. Their projects also included tin foil creations, fish rattles and clay bead necklaces.
Owen said she hopes her pupils will develop an appreciation for art.
"I know every kid is not going to be a Picasso or paint on weekends," she said, adding she hopes they "just enjoy it whether they're creating it or looking at it."
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