EASTON — Superintendent Lisha Cabral is pleased to share that Oliver Ames High School art teacher Kristyn Shea was selected as the Massachusetts Art Education Association (MAEA) 2021 Secondary Art Educator of the Year.
The 2021 MAEA Awards Ceremony will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but award winners will be celebrated and honored at the next awards ceremony in November 2021.
“I feel so thankful to have received this award from the MAEA. Art has been my passion for as long as I can remember and has been a means of communication and self-expression in my life,” Shea said. “I feel so blessed to be an art teacher and to share my love of the art world with others. Witnessing the discoveries my students make in themselves and their own individual artistic journey is more rewarding than what I could have ever imagined. My students, past and present, have amazed me with their brilliance.”
Shea has worked at Oliver Ames High School as the only full-time art teacher for 15 years. Since then, she has helped to grow the art program in Easton and at Oliver Ames, serving as not just an art teacher, but also the K-12 Visual Art department chair of the district. As part of this role, she oversees the administrative tasks of the department, including being the Art Department curriculum leader representative on the district’s curriculum leaders council and leading professional development workshops across the district.
Shea’s mission is to encourage each student to use art as a form of communication and expression that they are able to explore and discover in their own lives. Shea’s curriculum is based on participation, collaboration and imagination that allows each student to voice their opinions and learn from others. Her goal as an art educator is to provide opportunities for her students to share their creativity with the public as much as possible.
“Art-making encourages self-expression and can build confidence as well as a sense of individual identity. It enables students to overcome and explore the many outcomes and challenges they will encounter in life with optimism and originality,” Shea said. “Allowing students to make discoveries and connections to the world around them is crucial to building a sense of purpose and fostering innovative thinking. Engaging in the artistic process cultivates patience, perceptiveness and perseverance, with an understanding that there are multiple solutions to one problem. Most importantly, students will remember how it felt when they overcame creative obstacles, instilling the motivation in them that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to.”
Shea often spends long hours outside of the classroom as adviser to the art club, completing numerous murals with art club students throughout the high school that celebrate the school community.
She is also committed to showcasing her students’ work in national and regional art competitions and events. Most notably, many of her students have been honored at the regional and national levels of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers Scholastic Art Competition and the Congressional Art Competition. Her students have earned over 200 recognitions for their artwork and have broken records within the Oliver Ames High School Art Department. In Shea’s 15 years as an art teacher, she has received eight national medals in instruction from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.
Shea has organized art exhibits to display the Oliver Ames art program throughout the community. Work has been displayed at the Attleboro Arts Museum, the Art Gallery at Patriot Place, Bridgewater State University, the Queset House in Easton, the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall, the Easton town offices, and the Newton and Attleboro offices of Congressman Joe Kennedy III. The University of Massachusetts Amherst also invited both Shea and her students to display their artwork at the Herter Gallery in a 2017 show celebrating the strength of Massachusetts visual arts teachers and their outstanding public school programs.
“Kristyn is the epitome of excellence in education. She is dedicated to her students and her discipline in ways that leave me humbled and grateful,” Oliver Ames Principal Wes Paul said. “Respected and loved by her students, their parents and her colleagues, Kristyn has made her mark every year, and the notoriety of OA’s Art Program is a legacy passed down from one great art teacher to the next. During Kristyn’s tenure, art education and student engagement in the pursuit of excellence in art has grown by leaps and bounds, and I am proud to call her a colleague.”
“We are very proud of Kristyn and congratulate her on this outstanding achievement,” Superintendent Cabral said. “Her passion for art shines through in her work, and her dedication to helping her students share their creativity within our community is admirable. We are so lucky to have her at Oliver Ames.”
Shea holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in art education with a minor in art history and a fine art work concentration in painting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Bridgewater State University.
Oliver Ames High School student artwork can be found here.
About Massachusetts Art Education Association (MAEA):
An affiliate of the National Art Education Association since 1975, MAEA is Massachusetts’ professional association for art educators. The mission of MAEA is to advance high quality visual arts education throughout the state by empowering art educators to excel in the practice, instruction, promotion, and celebration of visual art. Recipients exemplify highly qualified individuals active in the field of art education today: leaders, educators, students, scholars, researchers, and advocates who make significant contributions to the profession.
For more information, please visit the MAEA website at www.massarted.com.