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EHS teacher is Oregon art educator of the year

Estacada High School art instructor Janice Packard was named the 2015 Oregon Art Educator of the year by the Oregon Art Education Association.

“I'm so honored,” Packard said. "It just makes my heart happy.”

The recognition is nothing new for the veteran art teacher. She was Oregon's Secondary Art Educator of the Year in 2011.

“She is extremely passionate about her subject. And a lot of our kids catch that passion,” said Ryan Carpenter, principal of Estacada High School.

“Art is important to every human being,” Packard said. “I hope my students will be able to understand what art contributes to society.”

Packard grew up in Damascus, went to Barlow High School and graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She got her master's degree in education from Lewis and Clark College.

She began teaching as a substitute in 1994 and has been teaching full-time at Estacada High School since 1997.

She teaches all the art classes offered at the high school. She also will be teaching seventh and eighth grade introduction to art, called “art exploration,” at Estacada Middle School this year for the first time. Carpenter calls the middle school assignment “positive for us. It will help feed the art program here.”

At the high school she offers “art foundations” for first year students, painting and drawing and advanced art. Seniors can take a studio art class.

“Studio is a portfolio building class. They can submit their portfolios to colleges,” she said.

And, high school art students can do independent study in a class called “art projects.”

If a student wants to explore a particular medium, such as photography or sculpture, they can do this in independent study.

“My students inspire me,” she said. "They are open to trying new things. There is an incredible creativity that comes out of them, the dedication they show.”

Principal Carpenter, who described Packard as “methodical and quiet,” said “she makes art very personal to our students.”

Carpenter is impressed with her dedication.

“She spends a ton of time in the classroom working with kids both before and after school,” he said.

Packard doesn't see art as a “frill” for students.

“In the 21st century, job skills require everyone to be more creative, to problem solve, to be inventive and think in many different ways. Art helps to build those type of thinking skills,” she said.

She doesn't have a strict, color-inside-the-lines curriculum for her students.

“We do a lot of experimenting and see what clicks for each student,” she said. She also changes up the type of art she teaches every year. “This year we'll do printmaking in advanced art."

She even allows the advanced art students to set up the classroom at the beginning of the year.

Her favorite medium to teach is painting, “because I'm a painter,” she said.

Estacada has a rich art culture and she encourages her students to go to the art shows at the Spiral Gallery and Estacada Library. She takes them on field trips, mostly to college galleries, such as the Hallie Ford Gallery at Willamette University or the gallery at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. “That way they can see the college too,” she said.

The selection process for art teacher of the year is competitive.

“These fine professionals were nominated by their colleagues and their nomination materials were rated through a process of blind adjudication according to specific rubrics from the National Art Education Association,” the OAEA said.

Packard will be honored, along with six other distinguished Oregon art educators, at an awards breakfast Saturday, Oct 10, at the association's annual conference held at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.