• ST. LOUIS, MO, December 13, 2010 – Edward Degas, a famous artist, once said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” This simple, but factual, statement captures the very essence of teaching visual arts. At the St. Louis Public School District visual arts is not a secondary subject. It is recognized as an important teaching tool that motivates, educates, and inspires students to move beyond what was read in a book and to find what is in their mind.  Because the contributions of the visual art teachers are invaluable, the St. Louis Public School District has awarded the first annual Visual Art Teacher of the Year Awards at the middle school and high school levels.


    The Middle School Visual Arts Teacher of the Year is Ms. Rebecca Simpson from McKinley Classical Junior Academy. Nominated by Ms. Emily Scott, the school’s Teaching and Learning Facilitator, Ms. Simpson earned the award for teaching techniques, giving guidance, and supplying nourishment for a child’s imagination. As a result, her students have won awards locally and nationally, with one piece of artwork hanging in the U.S. Department of Education.  Ms. Simpson also coaches the chess team and color guard, and serves as an advisor for students.


    The High School Visual Arts Teacher of the Year is Mr. Tom Tobias from Metro Academic and Classical High School. Nominated by a fellow colleague, Mr. Tobias has taught Art History; International Baccalaureate Art; Introduction to Art; Painting; Drawing; Printmaking; and Ceramics at Metro since 2004. A member of the National Art Education Association, Mr. Tobias has also taught at St. Louis Community College-Meramec Campus and at Southern Illinois University.


    He states, “the art educator must pull all the educational disciplines together, distill them, and present them in such a way that students understand that it is possible for this complex mix of influences to be thrown together by the artist to create the work of art.”


    The 2010 Visual Art Teachers of the Year were honored with an awards reception, and presented with a $1,000 cash award from the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation.  In addition, the recipients were presented with a trophy, a plaque, and a $500 award for classroom supplies and/or professional development through the Parsons Blewett Memorial Fund.  For more information please contact the Office of Public Information (314) 345-2367.