Kelli Gartman, the BGM K-12 art teacher, was recently recognized by the Art Educators of Iowa (AEI) as Outstanding High School Art Educator.
Gartman, who holds a BFA in Art Education from the University of Northern Iowa, graduating in 2015, and an MA in Art Education, also from UNI, where she graduated in 2020, has taught at BGM since 2015. She is in her seventh year of teaching at the school.
“Looking back on my first few years of teaching, I could not imagine a better district to start out at,” Gartman said of BGM. “My co-workers, administration, and students have welcomed me with open arms and have supported the directions I've aimed to steer the visual arts curriculum. Because of this, I credit much of this award to their support and helping me to realize my potential as both an artist and educator.”
Gartman has been an attendee of the AEI Conference as well as a presenter discussing Arts/Autism and her graduate program research program findings. Outside of AEI, Kelli was awarded UNI’s Sign of Dedication for aiding students in their high school success and college search process. As an artist, her work is displayed on murals through her community at Holiday Lake and is the process of others at Center Ground Coffee Shop in Brooklyn.
Within her practice, a strong emphasis is placed on cross-curricular connections which is shown through student projects such as Inspire (written/visual book publication) and a collaborative sculpture unit that works alongside UNI’s Public Art Incubator program.
JR Glenn, BGM Secondary Principal, said, “Mrs. Gartman does a great job of promoting student-centered approaches and recognizing each students’ accomplishments, which are many. What is so impressive to me is her ability and willingness to allow for student agency and choice. Having students take ownership and allowing for choice are foundational in her courses.”
The AEI is an Iowa-based professional organization that was established in 1950. The organization soon began to recognize those who stood out as exemplars in the field. Awards are given each year to peer selected members of the Iowa Arts Education community who have shown stellar dedication to the craft of teaching art to children across the state.
"I am overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled to be receiving the Outstanding High School Art Educator of the Year award,” added Gartman. “I am honored to have my practice recognized in this way by the AEI as I know how hard art educators work to advocate for their programs and place value within the arts for our students. Much of my teaching passion stems from visualizing connections to other disciplines and my hope is that students can also build meaningful connections in their own work as it relates to other content areas and fields of study they choose to pursue outside of the classroom."