Friday, March 15, 2013

Nominations sought for top arts teachers - posted by Florida Fine Art Blog

Nominations sought for top arts teachers
Sun Sentinel
By Chris Guanche, Forum Publishing Group

Giving a teacher an apple is an old cliche, but Broward's four top art teachers will each win one made out of crystal.

The Broward County Cultural Division has been running the Arts Teacher of the Year program for 27 years, singling out one teacher for its top honor, which also includes a $1,500 cash prize and a $500 contribution to the winning school's arts department. Finalists for the award attend a ceremony at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' Amaturo Theater in Fort Lauderdale.

But things are a bit different this year, as the award is being expanded to include a winner in four categories: visual arts, dance, music and theater. The program was previously limited to public and charter schools, but this year it's being widened to include private schools.

"We created [the award] so that we can celebrate the exceptional art that teachers are doing in school," said Jody Horne-Leshinsky, a community development director with the cultural division.

Each category will include three finalists. Teachers can nominate themselves or have their principal nominate them by the May 31 deadline. Nominations are examined by a subcommittee of the Broward Cultural Council, but that's not the end of the process. Committee members will go out into the field and evaluate teachers in class. They also seek feedback from students and principals.

"It lets them see how the teachers relate to their children," Horne-Leshinsky said. Taking the evaluation into the classroom is an important part of the process, said Deborah Kerr, chairwoman of the cultural council. "It takes the process off flat paper and puts it into three dimensions," Kerr said.

The four winners won't be announced until Nov. 6. The long time between the deadline and the ceremony is due to the evaluation process and summer break, Horne-Leshinsky said. After selecting teachers, the committee will begin its evaluations in the fall at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Kerr said the expansion of awards will be a boost for competition. "We want to highlight the quality of teachers," she said.

For more information, visit  or call 954-357-7869.
Chris Guanche can be reached at

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