VIERA, Florida – The Florida Department of Education and the Florida Art Education Association (FAEA) recently named Challenger 7 Elementary in Cocoa, Atlantis Elementary in Port St. John, and Astronaut High in Titusville, as Visual Art Demonstration Schools.
Art teachers at each school submitted an extensive application for the award in June, 2011. The art program at Challenger 7 is under the direction of Pam Van Heiningen, Leah Andritz is the instructor at Astronaut High. Christie Berrier was the art teacher at Atlantis at the time of the application, but has since accepted an opportunity at another school in the county.
“All of the students at Challenger 7 love going to art class because of their teacher, Mrs. Van Heiningen,” said Principal Carol Mela. “She has a passion for the arts and strives every day to instill this same passion in her students. It is an honor to be the recipient of the Visual Art Demonstration Award and as principal of Challenger 7, I invite all art teachers who want to know what excellence in art education looks like to visit Mrs. Van Heiningen’s classroom.”
Sherry Tomlinson, former principal of Atlantis Elementary and current principal of Madison Middle said, “Atlantis Elementary has a proven history of excellence in the arts.” She continued, “Being recognized as a 2011-2014 Visual Art Demonstration School is a tremendous honor and accomplishment thanks to the hard work of Mrs. Christie Berrier under the fine leadership of Brevard’s Visual Arts Resource Teacher, Bridget Geiger.”
Newly appointed Atlantis principal, Cynthia Adams said, “Excellence in the arts is essential to the development of the whole child. We are absolutely thrilled to be recognized for this achievement. This award exemplifies the dedication and commitment of our teachers and the level of professionalism they exhibit on a continuous basis.”
Astronaut High Principal, Terry Humphrey was also excited about the award and conveyed the following, “Leah Andritz has an built an outstanding academic and researched based art program at AHS that attracts students with interests in all genres of the visual arts. Students in her program have a high level of participation and success in local, state, and national art competitions.”
The Visual Art Demonstration School Program is a new collaboration between the Department of Education and the Florida Art Education Association (FAEA), and provides schools an opportunity to earn recognition for outstanding visual art education programs. Such programs promote growth of skills and knowledge in two- and three-dimensional art as students strengthen their problem-solving skills and modes of perceiving the environment.
In order to qualify as a Visual Art Demonstration School, schools must be certified in K-6 or K-12 art education and offer significant opportunities for arts instruction. The art program must also demonstrate connections to the local community through activities such as community art exhibits and service-learning projects. A Visual Arts Demonstration School contributes to the overall excellence of the school environment, addresses the Sunshine State Standards in exemplary ways, and promotes academic and aesthetic student achievement.
The schools received statewide recognition on the Florida Department of Education and FAEA websites and at a special awards ceremony held during the FAEA annual state conference in St. Petersburg on November 9.