Director of JMU's School of Art, Design and Art History wins national award

Office of the Provost

By Jen Kulju (M’04)

Dr. Kathy Schwartz has been named the 2017 Southeastern Region Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association (NAEA). A professor of art and art education, Schwartz is finishing up her third year as director of the School of Art, Design and Art History at James Madison University. Schwartz served for 15 years as director of the Art Education Center at JMU, which she founded in 2000 with Professor Bill Wightman.

“I am honored to be selected for this NAEA award in recognition of my contributions to art education, culminating in the prestigious Art Education Center at JMU,” says Schwartz. “Bill and I teamed up right away to develop the mission, vision and goals for the Art Education Center, which provided the foundation for our art education programs and hundreds of guest speakers and community outreach initiatives,” claims Schwartz.

Schwartz and Wightman’s vision for the Art Education Center became fully realized in 2014 with a new 3,000-square-foot space in Duke Hall featuring a computer lab, high-tech classroom/seminar rooms and a resource room to support JMU’s pre-service teachers and art education teachers across Virginia. “The Art Education Center at JMU is certainly the only one like it in the Commonwealth,” explains Schwartz. “Art education professional licensure is available to every art, design, and art history student at JMU, versus as a stand-alone major. The Art Education Center is housed in the middle of the studios in Duke Hall, providing accessibility to all majors. We also offer an M.A. in Art Education, which is a Ph.D. track program for experienced art teachers.”

Schwartz’s career spans more than 40 years as an art educator, administrator and professor. Prior to coming to JMU, Schwartz spent 25 years in Alaska where she taught in remote villages above the Arctic Circle and in the Anchorage School District, and she served as the art specialist for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Schwartz also taught Art Education for the University of Alaska at Kenai Peninsula College where she directed the Alaska Center for Excellence in Arts Education and the Alaska Alliance for the Arts, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her research, Improving Visual Art Education in Alaska, was supported by Getty Institute for Education on the Visual Arts.  

According to Wightman, Schwartz is “a consummate educator who continues to touch the lives of many.” Wightman is one of a number of Schwartz’s peers who nominated her for NAEA’s 2017 Southeastern Region Art Educator of the Year. Schwartz served as vice president of the Pacific Region for the NAEA, and has provided over 40 national presentations devoted to the role of art in learning. The NAEA awards serve to provide tangible recognition of excellence and achievement of the many outstanding individuals and programs of the NAEA. They also focus professional attention on exemplary art educators and quality art education, as well as increase public awareness of an education in the arts.

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Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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