HOUSTON – Aug. 19, 2019 – The Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) has announced the 20 inaugural winners of its District of Distinction Award, naming Spring ISD among the first districts in the state to receive the honor. The award recognizes Spring ISD’s commitment to supporting strong visual arts education across all schools and grade levels.
“Spring ISD is excited to be among the first recipients of this designation, and to be helping lead the way in quality arts education,” said Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson. “This award is especially gratifying in light of our district’s Arts Integration initiative and its collaborative, cross-disciplinary emphasis on educating the whole child.”
A leading advocate for visual arts education, TAEA has previously honored outstanding members for their work in the classroom, but this is the first year the organization is honoring districts that meet its rigorous District of Distinction criteria. Out of more than 1,000 eligible districts, only 20 met the criteria this year to be named a District of Distinction – putting Spring ISD in the top 2 percent of districts in the state, according to a statement released by TAEA.
“Spring ISD has set the standard for visual arts advocacy, integrated visual arts curriculum and creativity,” said Dr. Michaelann Kelley, chair of the Administration and Supervision Division of TAEA. “This is a high honor. The award is a testament to the skill, perseverance, and vision for a well-rounded education for this winning school district.”
According to Director of Performing and Visual Arts Dr. Joe Clark, the District of Distinction criteria inspired Spring ISD’s visual arts program to grow and develop in positive ways.
“We like things that challenge us, and we like things that make us think about achieving high levels for all students across the district,” Clark said. “The beauty of this award is that it focuses on the entire district, on reaching every child, and that’s something to be really proud of. It’s a massive challenge, but our students are worth it.”
Using a 14-point evaluation rubric, TAEA officials selected districts that exhibited a commitment to providing a well-rounded education that successfully advocates for and integrates a visual arts curriculum inspiring both creativity and student engagement. It also recognizes Spring ISD’s commitment to collaboration between the visual arts and other content areas, as well as the district’s work to engage the community through the arts.
Spring ISD Visual Arts Coordinator Amanda Byers said the year-long process required dedication and a strong commitment from staff at all campuses.
“Every single visual art teacher was on board,” Byers said. “Each of them was committed to us becoming a District of Distinction. I can’t say enough about how much that support meant in getting us here.”
The 20 winning districts for 2019 will be honored during a special awards ceremony at TAEA’s annual conference in November, taking place this year at Moody Gardens Convention Center in Galveston.
“We know we have great students and great teachers,” Clark said, “but we could not have accomplished this without the vision of our school board and the continued support of our superintendent in the areas of arts education and arts integration here in Spring ISD.”