Art education alumnae earn statewide awards

Patricia Cummins, '79, was named Florida's Elementary Art Educator of the year.

Patricia Cummins, ’79, was named Florida’s Elementary Art Educator of the year by the Florida Art Education Association. Here she is pictured with her oil on canvas painting, “Everglades Dream,” part of the permanent collection of the Tropical Audubon Society.

College of Education alumnae took home three major awards issued recently by the Florida Art Education Association (FAEA).

Patricia Cummins ’79 was named Elementary Art Educator of the Year; Lourdes Fuller ’98 was named Middle School Art Educator of the Year; and Beth Goldstein ’99 was named Florida Art Educator of the Year.

“It was very unexpected,” said Fuller, who teaches art at Miami’s Shenandoah Middle School. “I really did not expect it at all. I am amazed and humbled that I was recognized.”

Each year, FAEA recognizes members who have reached the highest level of professionalism and who have made significant achievements in the classroom, who conduct research or who have their work shown in exhibitions, to name a few.

“They recognize that you’re not just sitting in a classroom,” said Goldstein, an art educator at Miami Springs Senior High School. “They want to see that you’re pushing kids above and beyond or how are you making changes in the arts education community.”

Beth Goldstein

Beth Goldstein, ’99

2015 marks the second straight year FAEA recognized Goldstein for her efforts inside and outside the classroom. In 2014, she was named Outstanding Secondary Art Educator.

“Art ties into every other subject area – it’s nothing but the practical application of science,” she said. “It’s easy for me to stretch outside my comfort zone but I push my students to enter contests where they have to make diagrams or make a piece of art and write about its connection to science.”

One such contest where Cummins, Fuller and Goldstein encouraged their students to participate is The Fairchild Challenge; run by Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, it is open to students from pre-kindergarten to high school and calls on them to create environmentally-themed projects.

“I think that made an impact on my students,” said Cummins, who until last year taught children at Palmetto Elementary School in Pinecrest. “When they noticed that a corkystem passion flower vine at the school was damaged, they saw something happened to the butterflies – they weren’t there and they made that connection.

“They learn science, they learn math, what’s important with art and music,” she added. “It’s something that stays with them for their entire lives.”

Goldstein credits the Fairchild Challenge with motivating students where she used to teach at Miami Central High to excel. In a school where less than 12 percent of students were proficient in science at the time, she said, her students took third place overall in the science-based challenge.

Lourdes Fuller

Lourdes Fuller, ’98

In all, the alumnae credit their time at FIU for helping them become successful art educators who can summon their creativity and connect with their students.

“One of the things our professors pushed for was for us to practice our own art,” Fuller said. “It’s hard because there’s no tired like teacher tired but it’s important because once I start and I reach a hard step, it helps me think maybe this is what’s happening to my students and I think of ways I can help them.”