Hippo Manchester
November 10, 2005

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Arts: Head of the class

Manchester resident named Art Educator of the Year

By Michelle Saturley   msaturley@hippopress.com 

Manchester resident Marcia Connors grew up in a rural town in Vermont, where the elementary school had no art teacher. Now she’s made it her personal mission to nurture the artist in every child at the South Londonderry Elementary School, where she’s been an art teacher for the last 15 years.

“It’s a very community-oriented school,” Connors said. “Everyone is proactive, and the students come first. The parents and faculty are committed to enriching the kids’ lives.”

Connor was named Art Educator of the Year for 2005-2006 by the New Hampshire Art Educators Association. The award was handed out at a reception on Oct. 15 at the Art Educators’ annual conference in Concord, and Connors will be recognized at the National Art Education Conference in June.

For Connor, the nomination and the award was a surprise. She was nominated by her prinicipal, Linda Kettering.

“I was astounded by the breadth of exposure afforded to our children and the comprehensive planning which went not only into each lesson, but into a global plan as well,” Kettering said. “[Connor’s lesson plan] encompasses all five years of the student’s elementary career.”

Connor says the students learn by building off what they learned the year before, so that each link of her curriculum is connected.

“I start off in grade one with a little bit of art history and we work our way up from there,” she said. “We talk about Vincent Van Gogh, and we cover basic skills like coloring and cutting with scissors and painting.”

By fifth grade, Connor teaches the students the six major time periods in art history, from the Renaissance to the Modern Art movement, and challenges the students to create their own masterpieces based on their research. The result is a school-wide art show that is a high point of the school year.

“It’s become a huge event,” she said. “All the parents and grandparents and faculty come out to see the art the students have created.”

Connor says she is fortunate to work in a school district that is supportive of the visual arts and its importance to the development of a child’s education.

“I know what it’s like to grow up in a school with no art teacher, and that’s what I think of every day,” she said. “I know what these kids would be missing.”