Retired Professor Wins Teaching Award


SUNY New Paltz Professor Emerita Dr. Margaret Johnson was recently awarded the 2012 New York State Art Teachers Association (NYSATA) Art Educator of the Year.

She said while she has been given many awards in her time, this one represents a culmination of all her work in the state and highlights her contribution to teaching.

“I have been honored with other awards, state, regional, even a national award a few years back, but this award brings a sense of closure for me,” Johnson said. “The award underscores what I see as the most important aspect of my tenure at SUNY New Paltz: that of creating a strong relationship with New York’s art teachers so that our students can work with mentors and future colleagues.”

When it comes to education, Johnson said her favorite part is seeing students’ enthusiasm for teaching art to youth.

“My favorite part is when my students tell me about their own classroom experiences, what their students have accomplished and what they themselves have learned,” she said.

Chair of NYSATA Region 7 Amanda Buhler said Johnson was selected from the pool of last year’s 10 winners of Region Art Educator of the Year. She said the award is presented at the annual conference, which was held from Nov. 16 to 18 in Rochester, and the winner’s name is given to the National Art Education Association for “further recognition and consideration” for national awards.

According to the NYSATA website, there is a variety of criteria award candidates must meet, such as NYSATA membership, at least 15 years of art education experience, varied educational background, development of an “outstanding” art education program and contributions to curriculum design at the local or state level, development of a philosophy and theory of art education that reflects “best practice” and commitment to the field.

As Johnson’s former student and graduate assistant, Buhler said she was an “incredible mentor” who made great strides while at the college.

“Dr. Margaret Johnson elevated the Art Education Program at SUNY New Paltz by bringing with her the wisdom, dedication and forward thinking that helped spearhead many changes and strategic planning such as her collaboration with local art educators in NYSATA and her work with the National Art Education Association,” Buhler said.

The SUNY New Paltz and NYSATA Region 7 Art Education Symposium is another of Johnson’s accomplishments that will continue her legacy, Buhler said. Starting in 2006, Johnson said they created the annual event for regional art teachers and art education majors, which featured themes such as special needs in art education, working in museums and hosting lectures coupled with the workshops.

Dean of Fine and Performing Arts Mary Hafeli said she saw Johnson “serve with distinction” throughout her years at New Paltz and has “long-known” of her talents as a teacher, scholar and leader. She said this award also showcases the department as a whole.

“This award, in recognizing and celebrating Professor Johnson’s career as an art educator, also shines light on our Art Department and art education program, both of which have benefitted from Professor Johnson’s enormous contributions,” Hafeli said.

Acknowledging those who helped her come this far, Johnson said this honor should be shared, especially with those who helped with the symposia including the NYSATA Region 7 Board and volunteers, as well as New Paltz art education students who lent a hand.

“It takes many individuals working on many levels to make good things happen” Johnson said. “Our symposia were successful because so many people collaborated and contributed to its success, I do not believe that individuals earn awards; communities do.”