Two Columbia County teachers recently won awards from the Morris Museum of Art and Wachovia Corp.
Angelika Bondar, who teaches art at Stevens Creek and Euchee Creek elementary schools, was named the 2008 Outstanding Art Teacher in Visual Art. Silke Piper, a fifth-grade teacher at South Columbia Elementary School, was named Outstanding Classroom Teacher in Visual Art.
The awards recognize teachers who demonstrate a commitment to the idea that art is an essential part of learning and who demonstrate excellence in teaching art.
"Through art you can reach children that you might not be able to reach just through straight academics," Bondar said. "It's very interdisciplinary and hands-on."
The competition was open to public and private teachers for grades kindergarten through 12. Nominees submitted questionnaires, lesson plans, letters of recommendation and portfolios.
Piper incorporated art into her lessons to help her pupils prepare for the Georgia Writing Assessment, a written measure of pupils' ideas, organization, style and conventions.
"I use art as a medium to get students to think," Piper said.
Her pupils studied paintings by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, and described the artwork in their writings.
"It allowed students to use their best word choices to describe the pictures," Piper said. "It allowed us to almost step into the paintings and use our senses."
Bondar submitted a lesson plan about abstract art and a CD that showed children working on projects as well as finished abstract pieces.
She said she tries to tie art lessons to the curriculum and to her pupils' lives.
Even if her pupils do not become artists, Bondar said she hopes they will learn to "appreciate someone else's art when they see it and process what was involved in creating it."
She also said she hopes children will support the arts later in life.
Piper, a self-described "military brat," said art provided her with an outlet of creativity when she moved from place to place as a child.
"I like to do art. I like to look at art," she said. "I don't always understand it, but it's something we can talk about."
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