Julie Sawyer named Teacher of the Year

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Julie Sawyer named Teacher of the Year

Patrick Arnold

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  Art Department Leader Julie Sawyer was recognized as the 2018 Teacher of the Year for Farmington Public Schools. Sawyer has been teaching art for 10 years within the district at both the high school and middle school.

  “It is an honor to be selected as Farmington’s Teacher of the Year. This award is the

result of the many collaborations I have been fortunate to take part in here at FHS. I

hope this award will give me many opportunities to highlight the work of my colleagues

and department as well as all the other amazing teachers and [paraprofessionals] I have the pleasure to collaborate with,” Sawyer said.

  Sawyer spent the past year developing the art program at the high school and the Unified Art Program. She also developed a connection with Tunxis Community College, where last year she was able to hold the first Advanced Placement/Senior Art Exhibit at their Barnes-Franklin Gallery. According to Sawyer, her goal with teaching art has been to share its power with others.  

  “For me, all the subjects in high school came together through the arts. I love how contemporary art can shake up our world-view and help us see things from a new perspective. It can be a form of social protest — empowering those who have no political voice,” Sawyer said.

  Principal Bill Silva commended Sawyer on her efforts to push for improving the art program and collaboration efforts in including art into other subjects. Silva considers Sawyer to be a valuable member of the school community.

  “Mrs. Sawyer is incredibly collaborative when working with others, she really brings out the best in everyone. She is also always eager to learn new things, even after many years of teaching experience. Her creativity, which comes from her artist expertise, becomes part of her teaching as well,” Silva said.

  Many students have had the opportunity to take courses taught by Sawyer. According to senior Alexa Colwick, Sawyer’s Unified Art class is a pleasure to be in.

   “I love being able to work with other students I wouldn’t normally be working with. I also love the new friendships that are formed within the class,” Colwick said.

  Art teacher Andrew Minor commented that Sawyer always having the art program’s best interest in mind. Minor also commends her ability to work light-heartedly under pressure. He says she has taught him be a better person in general.

  “When I observe her dealing with conflict resolution, I see that you can maintain your serenity while still vigorously advocating your position. Sawyer has taught me that effective leadership can be achieved through honesty and trust in her team. Most importantly, she has modeled the virtue of loyalty and being loyal to the team you lead,” Minor said.

  Sawyer also impressed the Board of Education with her innovative leadership and collaboration skills. Board of Education Chair Chris Fagan attributes the Art Department’s success directly to Sawyer.

 “Julie Sawyer is an outstanding educator, innovative teacher leader and strong advocate for her students and colleagues. Farmington’s premier Fine and Applied Arts programming is a direct result of Julie’s leadership, collaboration and commitment to excellence,” Fagan said in a press release.

 Sawyer looks forward to co-presenting a workshop on leadership to art educators at the

Connecticut Art Education Association in October, and to presenting another workshop to art

supervisors at the National Art Education Association in Seattle in March.