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Jeffco Art Teacher Wins Art Educator of the Year

Jeffco Art Teacher wins state Colorado Art Educator Association Special Needs Art Educator of the Year
Posted on 10/16/2019
Art by student of Travis Hill, CAEA Special Needs Art Teacher of the YearTravis Hill began his teaching career working with students at risk and special needs students while working at Third Way Center’s Joan Farley Academy.  As an art teacher for severe at-risk students, ages 14-21, which had been placed in this residential treatment facility to receive therapeutic services, Travis had to break down the walls of daily mental health struggles in order to challenge them to find success in the classroom, where they have thus far been unable to do.  This is a task suited for a very select, few educators whose passion, dedication and determination leave no room for giving up on these special students.

Reflecting on her time working with Travis at JFA, Amy Thomas, Educational Coordinator, states, “Creativity and art can be used for both therapeutic and academic purposes and Travis was highly skilled at incorporating it into both aspects of these students’ experiences. He was able to create lessons that engaged students as well as allowed them to create pieces of student work that were displayed proudly in the school. Travis was also able to navigate creating solid lesson plans, allowing for flexibility when needed to address different student needs and learning styles. Both his knowledge of art and his ability to work with special needs students are a great asset.”
Currently, Travis is at the Brady Exploration High School in Lakewood, Colorado. He approaches each day, not by wondering what obstacle he will face today, but by rejoicing in the opportunities from which creativity may bloom. Teaching Special Education, Art and English, Travis is always mindful of the individual needs of each of his students and takes into consideration the wide spectrum of abilities his students present in an alternative education high school setting. 

Travis’ passion and commitment to his students can be seen by his regularly exceeding the boundaries of an eight-hour workday.  He designed and facilitated an after school art program at Brady for students and their families with the purpose providing a safe, educational place for students, as well as a time for students to expand their passion for creating art, as many did not have time in their already full class schedules for an art period. This required him to go above and beyond by adapting his lessons for all levels, including young children.  He has even been successful engaging fellow staff members in these learning opportunities as well, as the program proved to be invaluable and quite popular throughout the entire Westwood community, a community desperately in need of safe learning opportunities such as an after school art program. 

Knowing the power that comes from displaying one’s artwork to a viewing audience, Travis makes sure to display the work of willing students at every opportunity.  This past year, he arranged a once in a lifetime opportunity for his students to display their art in a gallery as a part of the First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe in Denver, CO. Travis made sure each student's piece of art was professionally framed and that students felt comfortable and proud to display their work.  The event and the positive reaction with which it was received allowed the students to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that cannot be replicated and will live within them for the rest of their lives. 

Nominator and School Psychologist, Melissa Skute, reflects, “I overheard many students discussing what a success the show was, and more importantly, how successful they felt as a result of the show. Several students beamed with pride as they reported patrons had tried to purchase their artwork.  Travis went above and beyond his teaching duties to make this show a special night for students of all ability levels.” 

Principal Troy Braley concludes, “Mr. Hill interacts with students with respect and dignity, encouraging students to develop self-reliance and responsibility. He has established a positive rapport with students in which they trust him. In addition, Travis is endlessly supporting and advocating for art. He is an integral part of an interdisciplinary team that lifts up art as part of the core component of student learning at our school.”



Each year, CAEA chooses a highly qualified individual whose dedication to excellence and advocacy in the field of art education deserves recognition and serves as a model to which all art educators may aspire.  

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