Debi West, a North Gwinnett High School art teacher, has been named the Southeastern Secondary Art Educator of the Year. West was selected for her leadership, hard work in the classroom, and commitment to the arts and she says she loves what she does.
“I believe that the visual arts are the key to developing human potential, for the arts are the visual stories that document our world. In essence, these stories showcase the remarkable opportunities we lead our students to by teaching them how to creatively use the tools so they are able to share their stories with the world. Often these images are beyond what any words could say,” West said.
West was selected from a pool of candidates from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Virgin Islands. She will be formally presented with the award at the National Arts Education Association (NAEA) National Convention March 2, 2017 in New York City.
West says she is excited about this latest honor, “It is an absolute honor to call myself an art educator. Art is the one class where authentic learning comes to life through projects, through experimentation, through documentation and students begin to realize their full potential – their voices matter, art matters,” West said.
During her career, West has won numerous honors, including being named 2012 National Art Honor Society Sponsor of the Year, 2011 State Youth Art Month Honorary Art Educator, 2009 Georgia Art Educator of the Year, 2009 Woodruff Arts Leader in Arts Education Honoree, 2006 NAEA Marion Quin Dix Leadership Award Recipient, 2006 Finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year, 2005 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year, and 2005 National Elementary Art Educator of the Year.