Barbara Miller Wins Indiana Outstanding Art Educator of the Year Award

Barbara Miller likes to be an art teacher. She likes to see creativity and sparks ignite.

Once out of college, it took a while to begin the teaching part of life. There were plenty of part-time jobs to sort out.

She has been a substitute teacher in four different school corporations in five years. It ended up working. She was recently named Outstanding Art Educator of the Year by the Art Education Association of Indiana. She was honored at the state conference in October and at a national recognition ceremony at the National Art Educators Conference in New York.

For her, the award recognizes the importance of art. “It’s not a luxury,” she said. “I firmly believe that art is not for the privileged, but for all to develop and become complete individuals.”

Barb teaches at Penn High School and is curator/director of the Penn Kingsmen Art Gallery. Only a handful of high schools in the state of Indiana have a gallery. This gallery exhibits works by students and professional artists. The gallery offers valuable professional experience to the students it trains to prepare, install, present, finance and animate exhibitions.

“I’ve been doing the Penn Gallery for 11 years now. I was able to develop a vision and they liked what was happening,” Barb said.

In addition, she also devotes time to the Regional School Arts Awards Committee and the 2nd District Congressional Arts Awards. The two major competitions in the region reward student artists. She has seen many students win top prizes.

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She has established a strong working relationship with the South Bend Museum of Art and the SBMA Curator of Education. Casey Smallwood. Through this working relationship with the SBMA, the museum has established a Teen Advisory Council.

“I try to get my students’ art into as many competitions as possible,” Barb said. For example, she co-wrote and received a fellowship in 2006 from Temple Beth-El of South Bend to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. She incorporated what she learned about Holocaust education into her classroom work and supported her students. ‘ participation in local Holocaust remembrance art and writing awards.

Fellow art teacher Anne Napoli said it was a “well-deserved award”. She added that no one understands how much time Barb spends at work to get the job done. It’s a lot.

And when she has nothing else to do, she adopts dogs. She took in 84 dogs for Heartland Small Animal Rescue.

Barbara Miller speaks about her Outstanding Art Educator of 2021 award from the Art Education Association of Indiana during a presentation at the National Art Educators Conference in New York.

Over a year ago, Barb recounted when she was told about the award. She ignored the email invitation to submit information. “I thought they sent it to everyone, to all the art teachers. And I didn’t have time. Then there was a push for her to submit. He was told it was a big deal.

Here’s a bit more on how to become an art teacher. She graduated from Clay High School and her parents are Pat Bateman and Ron Miller.

Initially, she had set herself the goal of becoming an art therapist. “In seventh grade, it was going to be art therapy.” She came to the conclusion that teaching is therapeutic.

Barb holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from Ball State and a master’s degree in secondary education from Indiana University South Bend. She began her career as an art teacher in 1986 at Catholic schools in Mishawaka. She has taught art at all levels, from elementary to adult, in K-12 schools and in community, summer camp and museum settings.

His first job was at three Catholic elementary schools with a day and a half in each building. She was working with 700 students a week and had no budget. Donations made it through.

All the time, she kept part-time jobs to make ends meet. Eventually, she got a year-long job at Washington High School as a photography teacher. “Two teachers (Anne Hamilton and Tom Meuninck) in Washington were shooting for me.

She got the job. “It was truly one of the best years of my life, and I learned more from Ann and Tom about being a good art teacher than I learned in college,” she said.

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The following year, she began teaching at Penn. It was 29 years ago.

A number of Penn students have gone on to artistic careers in animation, photography, and television. Others don’t go into art, but the education made a difference. Barb said she received a letter from a student thanking her for teaching creativity and seeing things differently.

There is always more than one answer. Be creative, the letter says.

You can reach Kathy at [email protected]

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