Art teacher honored at annual Texas Art Education Association Conference

Art teacher Jennifer Easterling was awarded Art Student of the Year earlier this year by the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) for her work in college. The state level award was given to her at the art convention in San Antonio on November 15th.

Having just started teaching at Bryan High, Easterling is settling in well.

“The kids like her, they get along well with her,” fine arts department head Kimberly Marshall said, ”She’s knowledgeable, and she has some enthusiasm about what she is teaching.”

Although Easterling did not want to teach when she first started her career in art, she began to find the idea appealing.

“I can’t really pinpoint a specific spot that made me want to teach, but I love the idea of getting to work with kids,” Easterling said.

Easterling is able to connect well with her students and fosters learning through her teaching ideology.

“She is really helpful,” junior Jenna Goen said, “Even though you are supposed to do it yourself, she has no problem with coming around and showing you how it’s done, but then really encouraging you to do it on your own.”

Although Easterling didn’t intend to go art, she discovered it was a perfect fit for her.

“The first teacher that I worked with was Dr.Michelle Craft,” Easterling said, “I am still good friends with her, and she helped nominate me for this award. She was the one who really sparked it, and the one that helped me all along.”

Considering that art was not stressed in Easterling’s school this was a surprising outcome.

“Whenever I was in school growing up, we didn’t have the opportunity to take an art class like this,” Easterling said. “So I didn’t really get much exposure to fine art as far as painting and watercolor and photography until I was in college.”

Easterling’s philosophy is that anyone can be an artist no matter their skills.

“People have a need to create and a need to express themselves,” Easterling said. “it may not necessarily be through a painting or a drawing, it could be another type of art, it could be the art of dance, or music, or art through a computer.”

Easterling has been working to help spread positive messages about art and art appreciation in the community and sees how the Bryan College Station community promotes art.

“The arts are strong in the Bryan College Station area, and we want to promote them,” Easterling said. “We are trying to do a lot more.”

One of the things Easterling has enjoyed about teaching here is how supportive Bryan High and Bryan ISD have been.

“Mr. Dean has been wonderful and supporting us, helping us go to the conference for free, because that can get rather expensive,” Easterling said, “It’s an just an amazing experience if we get to go, so just being able to have support has been wonderful.”