Laura Anton, an art teacher for Forest Lake Area Schools, last month received the Secondary Art Educator of the Year award.
Art Educators of Minnesota, the state’s professional organization for educators in visual and media arts, presents the honor each year.
The award recognizes a teacher who has demonstrated dedication, achievement and professionalism in the art education field and has made a positive impact on art education throughout the state.
Anton learned of the announcement on Sept. 23. She received the prize at the association’s fall conference in Duluth on Nov. 8 and 9, where she gave a speech to 300 people.
Anton has taught art at the Area Learning Center for the past 15 years and is the district department chair for art, coordinating in-service meetings for art teachers before the school year starts and during the year.
She also serves on the board of the Art Educators of Minnesota.
Anton was nominated by fellow board member and former president Mark Trampf, an art teacher at Mounds View Public Schools.
“He called me last summer,” she said. “I had to write about my work at the district and on the art ed board.”
One of the letters written to support her nomination came from Kelly Lessman, principal at the Area Learning Center.
Anton said shortly after she started teaching in Forest Lake in 1999, while attending an Art Education conference, she was invited to help with a committee.
Then she was asked to chair East Metro Art Educators, representing teachers in the St. Paul area.
She is currently co-chair of the advocacy committee.
The most interesting thing she’s done as part of the board, Anton said, was helping organize the national conference of art educators in 2009, when more than 2,000 people gathered at the convention center in Minneapolis.
She enjoys working with artists and teachers from other districts and keeping up with what’s going on in the state.
“This year, it’s art and the environment,” Anton said, and next year the focus will be on art as a core academic area.
Another benefit of being on the board is attending workshops on art techniques, including one on how to use iPads.
The Art Educators board hosts Youth Art Month each year. Usually held at the state Capitol, in March 2014 the show will be at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
The board also hosts the annual conference, gives scholastic art awards and advocates for art education throughout the state.
Forest Lake’s Area Learning Center was designed to meet the needs of students who do not fit a traditional school format. It provides a hands-on alternative school environment for students in grades 6-12.
Except for there being no ceramics studio or photo lab, Anton said, the art classes are the same as those at Forest Lake High School.
Until this year, Anton taught grades six to 12. Now she teaches seven different courses for grades 10 to 12.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t have much time to create art.
Like many teachers, Anton said, she does what she’s passionate about during the day.
“ When you get home, you want a break from it,” she added.