Seven outstanding art educators and institutions from the Mohawk Valley and Central New York. were honored this past weekend at the 72nd Virtual Conference of the New York State Art Teachers Association. Member awards comprise a significant portion of the Conference and reflect outstanding service, professionalism, above and beyond participation, and contributions to the field of art education on both the state and national level. A statewide total of twenty-three individuals and institutions were recognized.

Region Three which comprises the counties of Oneida, Madison, Herkimer, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence is not only one of the largest areas, but consistently produces leaders, recognizes institutions making a difference in the Visual Arts, and has yielded five of the seven awardees.

In the immediate Mohawk Valley region, three awards were given to individuals and two for institutions. Receiving Art Educator of the Year for Region 3 is Adrienne Watson who currently teaches at Little Falls Middle School. A former elementary classroom teacher, she returned to her first love of teaching art and During the COVID pandemic, Adrienne brought together art teachers on Facebook for one goal: to teach art and keep people creating on a page designed for that purpose. Her enthusiasm for interdisciplinary lesson creation, and as a workshop presenter at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts plus a participant in the Golden Paints Master Artists Class series brings new excitement to our Region.

The Outstanding Service Retirement Award honors Nancie Cooney from Central Valley Academy. According to Jeremy Rich, Superintendent of CVA, “She also was always willing to lend a helping hand, be a part of the school community, or to share the beauty of art to as many as she could. Overall, Nancie embodied the heart of a teaching artist and spread her love of imagination and creation to thousands of students Without a doubt, she has left a positive mark on many and for that, Central Valley is forever grateful.” Nancy is also a former winner of the Region Art Educator of the Year Award and has conducted classes for young students at the Mohawk Valley Center for the arts.

The Special Recognition Non; Member Award for 2020 goes to Ed Rinaldo, Director of Staff and Curriculum Development at Madison-Oneida BOCES in Verona. Kristie Boisen (Madison-Oneida Art Professional Learning Community Leader, stated that “Ed Rinaldo has high expectations for the level of commitment to the arts and always rises above and advocates for the arts whenever he has the opportunity. I am grateful for Ed Rinaldo’s leadership in the Arts throughout our region and to have such an arts visionary and advocate for our region’s art educators.” He is a valuable resource who supports regional art educators as artists and as educators.

Two community arts organizations were also recognized with the Special Citation Business/Institution Award. Four Elements Studio in Utica, under the direction of Vartan Poghosian, is “a community arts center dedicated to engaging and educating the community through a range of artistic experiences and programming. We strive to provide opportunities and resources to artists, the community, and individuals with a wide spectrum of disabilities by offering workshops, gallery space, exhibitions, workspace, and equipment to the public.” The Studio has hosted Art – The Common Thread exhibition during Youth Art Month in March showcasing student work alongside their art educators and has provided ongoing classes for special needs students during the COVID pandemic.

The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts in Little Falls also was honored with the Special Citation/Business Award. According to Donnalyn Shuster, Vice-President of NYSATA, “MVCA has always opened their doors to our area art educators in terms of offering workshops and meeting space for professional development, held yearly meetings with county art teachers to discuss needs and outreach, and supported learning in the arts through their course offerings not only on-site but in outlying school districts. I feel they are one of the strongest contributors to the growing arts community in the area.” Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts has hosted juried art exhibitions for high school students in the past, offers classes, and currently features our Reflections show held in March, as a student and teach collaboration celebrating Youth Art Month. Director Jane Malin is an enthusiastic collaborator with our area art teachers in providing new ideas and programs.

The New York State Art Teachers Association (NYSATA) is a non-profit professional organization founded in 1948 for the purpose of advancing the cause of art education by

  • stimulating interest in the study of art in public, private, and parochial schools and colleges in the state of New York;
  • developing sensitivity to and encouraging participation in visual art;
  • securing wider recognition of the vital importance of education through art;
  • encouraging carry-over of school art education into the artistic, social, and home life of the individual;
  • fostering professional growth and leadership among the members of the organization;
  • voicing our concerns with regard to policies and legislation that effect art education.

Members include preschool through university-level art educators, art administrators, museum educators, school administrators, school districts, commercial representatives, and friends and benefactors.

The New York State Art Teachers Association is made up of 10 Regions. Elected representatives from the ten regions and five elected state-level officers form the Board of Trustees, which is the decision-making body for NYSATA.