Like many of the impressive Scholastic Award winners out there, I took part in the program as a senior in high school and won a Gold Key in my region. This in turn resulted in a $1,000 merit scholarship from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. While I worked hard on my submission to the Scholastic Awards, part of the credit belongs to my high school studio art teacher, Ms. Mears. She often stayed late after school to provide feedback to students and help us prepare work for arts competitions, sometimes even driving us home if we didn’t have a ride.

The positive relationship I had with Ms. Mears had an enormous impact on my life, and I wanted to do similar work in the arts. Both my Award and teacher inspired me to go to art school, and even get a Master’s degree in nonprofit arts administration. When I was hired to fill the position for Manager, Regional Programs at the Alliance, my goal to help teens reach their artistic dreams became a reality. I now get to work with more than 100 affiliate partners who manage the Awards in their regions. Affiliates are a driving force of the program: they inform, encourage and support teachers and students who are part of this great opportunity.

The 2011 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recently opened and I can’t wait to see what students will submit. I remember how hard I worked to win my Award, and I also remember how exciting the process of creating my painting was. Making art is one big experiment: you start with an idea but can’t always predict what it will be. I think the surprise and what you learn are part of what makes the creative process so rewarding, even if you don’t always win for it.

Image credit: Jars. Katherine Gorman, Grade 12. 2010 Silver Medal, Drawing Portfolio.

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