FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Meredith Pierce
January 30, 2014
SLPS Names Visual Arts Teachers of the YearST. LOUIS, MO., January 30, 2014 -- St. Louis Public Schools has presented the Visual Arts Teacher of the Year awards to two highly experienced educators who use the power of the arts to connect with and inspire their students to achieve artistically and academically.
To earn the Visual Arts Teacher of the Year awards, nominees must explain their teaching philosophy and approach to teaching; provide examples of classroom lesson plans; and be recommended by an administrator and a professional colleague.
Mr. John Grapperhaus, an art teacher at Sumner High School, has been recognized as the St. Louis Public School District’s Middle/High School Visual Art Teacher of the Year for creating an engaging, diverse, robust arts curriculum for his students.
"Mr. Grapperhaus has spent over a decade in St. Louis Public Schools with a vision to build a competitive and inspiring art program," said Sumner High School Principal Isiah McHellen. "He continues to encourage students to challenge themselves with a higher bar for excellence. In addition to implementing new arts courses and curriculum in our school, Mr. Grapperhaus collaborates with core area teachers to bridge the artistic and academic."
Ms. Joy Taylor, an art teacher at Hamilton Elementary School, has been recognized as the St. Louis Public School District’s Elementary Visual Art Teacher of the Year for her dedication to teaching as a 24-hour job—always serving as a positive role model for students and a mentor for her colleagues.
"It is my belief that children have an inherent ability for creating art," Ms. Taylor wrote in her application. "I look at the child’s concerns, their creative play and imaginative collections, to make art lessons child-centered. Art is one of the most important ways people tell us how they view the world. … Children’s natural aptitude can be lost when art teachers impose only adult-centered concepts and artworks."
The 2013 Visual Arts Teachers of the Year were honored with an awards reception, a $1,000 award from the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, a trophy, a plaque, and a $500 award for related education materials through the Parsons Blewett Memorial Fund.
From left: Sumner High School Principal Isiah McHellen; John Grapperhaus, Middle/High School Visual Art Teacher of the Year; Hamilton Elementary School Principal Starlett Frenchie; Joy Taylor, Elementary Visual Art Teacher of the Year; Dr. Alice F. Roach, administrative director of the Parsons Blewett Memorial Fund