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April 29, 2022

Three Northeast Ohio art teachers receive inaugural Cleveland Institute of Art Excellence in Teaching Awards


April 29, 2022

CLEVELAND—The Cleveland Institute of Art announces a new way it will recognize high school art educators for their contributions to teaching and inspiring the next generation to pursue their passion for art and design: the Cleveland Institute of Art Excellence in Teaching Award.

The inaugural class of honorees includes three exemplary art teachers from Northeast Ohio: Sarah Curry at Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst; Dayna Hansen at Lakewood High School in Lakewood; and Dan Whitely at Orange High School in Pepper Pike.

“These three teachers represent the best of the best,” says Yvette Sobky Shaffer, CIA Vice President of Enrollment Management + Marketing. “They hold their students to high standards, which is evident in the artwork their students produce. They go above and beyond to provide students opportunities to show their work, apply for scholarships, and ultimately see themselves as professional artists and designers who influence the world. These teachers clearly demonstrate their commitment to teaching and their students.”

Curry is a painter, illustrator and printmaker who has taught at Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst for 21 years. She received her BFA in Illustration from Kansas City Art Institute, and her love of teaching children and adults at The Cleveland Museum of Art inspired her to attain her master’s degree in Art Education from Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Institute of Art. She uses art to make connections between local schools, businesses, members of various communities and artists of all ages.

Hansen is a career educator who has taught at Lakewood High School since 2015. Hansen studied Art Education at Kent State University before teaching for three years at Wando High School in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2020, she earned a master’s degree in Art Education from the Art of Education University. Teaching has been a lifelong passion, and today, she’s enjoying her 10th year as an educator. She says she wouldn’t trade her career as a teacher for anything.

Whitely is a designer, illustrator and fine artist who has taught art at Orange High School since 2014. His teaching career dates back to 1999, and to this day, Whitely follows his father’s advice by instructing his students at their current level while seeing them as the artists they will become—an approach that has resulted in several teaching awards. Whitely earned a BFA in Illustration in 1983 from the Cleveland Institute of Art and MA in painting in 1999 from Kent State University.

The honorees will be recognized May 6 during CIA’s 2022 BFA Celebration. Each will receive $500, their name on a plaque on CIA’s campus, and a one-of-a-kind certificate designed by CIA alum Julia Milbrandt.

“A key component of CIA’s excellence is the preparation our Ohio students receive from the superb art instruction in K-through-12 schools,” says CIA President + CEO Grafton Nunes. “There is a rich ecosystem here that benefits us greatly. We literally stand on the shoulders of giants, and their excellence is sadly much too undervalued. With these awards, we look to right that wrong.”

“Recognition from one of the top art colleges in the country is a meaningful way for CIA to support secondary arts education. It shows the value of teachers’ work to their communities. It builds connections that allow students to see the path toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree as something attainable,” Sobky Shaffer says. “We honor these teachers’ contributions and hope to give them leverage within their communities to continue their outstanding work.”

Educators who are considered for the Cleveland Institute of Art Excellence in Teaching Award are identified by CIA based on connections made throughout the recruitment cycle. Honorees are selected based on the outcomes of their students’ portfolios as well as their commitment to providing access and opportunities for students to show their work and consider the best art colleges in the country. Three recipients will be announced each year.

“These teachers work so incredibly hard, and it is of vital importance that we support secondary arts education,” Sobky Shaffer says. “It is important to acknowledge that in a STEM-oriented country, it is easy to think that the arts are not as critical to our education as math or science. However, artists and designs make the world we live in. They design buildings and products, and they reflect our values back to us. Nurturing these skills is vital to our country and the world.”

Cleveland Institute of Art
Michael C. Butz, Director of College Communications + External Relations / 216.421.7404

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