Alison Dunn, an art teacher at Xavier College Prep was recently honored with the 2019 Secondary Division Outstanding Art Educator award during the annual Arizona Art Education Association (AAEA) conference.
This award recognizes an outstanding high school art teacher who has an established record of exceptional teaching and advocacy for art education. The AAEA nominating committee decided to award Dunn based on peer nomination and letters of recommendation.
Catherine Robbins, another art teacher at Xavier, nominated Dunn. Robbins teaches next door and sees Dunn interact with her students each day.
“Alison wants the Studio Fine Arts Department at Xavier to be the best that it can be, and to that end, she gives excellent advice, shares resources and is a great role model. I wanted to nominate Alison for the Arizona Art Education award to let others know about her accomplishments and because she deserves it,” said Robbins.
Dunn currently teaches AP Art History, AP Studio Art, Intermediate and Advanced Drawing/Painting and Oil Painting I and II at Xavier. In addition, Dunn has been the department chair of studio art since 2008, and she also sponsors the National Art Honor Society Chapter.
“Our students and the entire Xavier community benefit greatly from Alison’s teaching and inspiration. She ensures our visual arts program is a vital component of 21st century learning,” said Xavier principal Sister Joan Nuckols.
With her combination of techniques designed to awaken creativity and problem-solving skills, Dunn has inspired students’ imaginations. Although a small percentage of students end up pursuing art as a college study, Dunn’s teaching techniques go beyond the art classroom.
“A majority of [Dunn’s] students will take what they learned in art class and apply it to many facets of their lives. Learning about and practicing art helps students think critically and apply creative solutions to problems,” said Lisa Zuba, director of marketing and staff development at Xavier.
Dunn teaches her students to appreciate art by encouraging them to submit their work to competitions, such as the annual Congressional Art Awards. Each year, Dunn also oversees the school-wide student art show.
The Secondary Division Outstanding Art Educator award is an annual award that is given to one teacher in each educational division. To receive the award, teachers are nominated by peers and must then submit additional letters of recommendation to the awards committee.
“I feel so grateful and supported. I’m grateful to be recognized for how much effort it takes to be an effective teacher. There are misconceptions that teaching art is easy, when in fact, it’s quite demanding,” said Dunn.