Wawasee Grad Named Art Educator of Year

Wawasee High School graduate Shelly J. Bushong Clark was named the 2016 Southeastern Regional Elementary Art Educator of the Year by The National Art Education Association.
Clark, of Bowling Green, Ky., is the daughter of Sam and Sue Bushong, Warsaw, and Bonnie and Gene Nicolai, Goshen and formerly of Milford. She also is a 1988 graduate of Wawasee High School where she participated in the cadett teaching program under Terry Iden during her senior year, according to a press release from NAEA.
Clark credits her desire to be a teacher to outstanding teachers that she experienced as she made her way through the Wawasee Community School system like Carolyn Baker, Cindy Bryant and Terry Iden. Clark said she does not remember the first time she wanted to be a teacher but knows the 10 years she spent as a 4-H member through the Elkhart County Fair had a lot to do with it as she helped younger 4Hers and learned to create unique projects. She said she was also influenced through Hex Grange and her church, learning many leadership and craftsmanship skills through the community volunteer projects.
Clark was a long-time local resident from birth until she left for Purdue University to obtain her teaching degree. She holds master’s degree in art education from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
She has taught visual arts for Warren County schools for over 20 years in various levels but mostly as an itinerant in elementary with approximately 1,200 students. She is teaching at Briarwood and Richardsville Elementaries, where she says her students influence and spark her creativity daily to be not only a better teacher but artist.
In the press release, Clark is quoted as saying, “Teaching visual art is my passion. I have come to believe in a time when we are bombarded with images that we need to be able to communicate in this visual world, understand what is coming at us, and how people can manipulate our reactions. The inspiration and the creativity is absolutely contagious between my students and I. We embark on self-discovery, critical thinking, and problem solving that is infectious.”
Andrea Nance, the music teacher at Briarwood, states in the release, “Mrs. Clark has always gone above and beyond to make sure the needs of her students are met and it is not uncommon for her to purchase art supplies with her own money to ensure her students are able to learn. Mrs. Clark is very generous of her time and talent to help any teacher or student that needs help. Our students have won the state elementary level flag competition four years in a row, state art awards, and last year we had a national winner. She volunteers to help with the talent show and musicals as well as assisting in being a team leader for the Arts and Humanities Program Review for our school.”
The Kentucky Education Association recently asked Clark to be one of six teachers to work on the state Arts and Humanities Cadre. She will present the new arts national and state standards across the state to inform her fellow teachers.
The award from the NAEA, determined through a peer review of nominations, recognizes the exemplary contributions, service and achievements of an outstanding NAEA member annually at the Regional level within their division, the press release states. The award was presented at the NAEA National Convention in Chicago, Ill., March 17.
NAEA President Patricia Franklin stated, “This award is being given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator. Shelly J. Bushong Clark exemplifies the highly qualified art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars, and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession.”