TOWSON, MD—Vernon Fains, visual arts content leader at Pine Grove Middle School, has earned the Linda Popp Leadership Award, and Camille Gibson, visual arts teacher at Golden Ring Middle School, has earned the Middle School Teacher of the Year award.
The statewide awards from the Maryland Art Education Association were presented at its annual award ceremony on Dec. 15.
The Linda Popp Leadership Award, meant to recognize an individual for outstanding contributions and professional service, is named after the former visual arts coordinator for Baltimore County Public Schools. After the awards ceremony, Popp described Fains as “truly a champion for every child and all teachers!”
The awards ceremony program featured the following quote from Fains: “As an art educator, I want to be able to encourage and contribute to the holistic growth of artists/students by providing space and opportunities for individual expression and meaningful experiences as they develop unique and personal ways to communicate thoughts and feelings.”
Beyond his role at Pine Grove Middle, Fains is an adjunct art education professor at Towson University, a board member for the Maryland Teachers Union, and a National Education Association Leader for Just Schools. As a member of the BCPS Lead Art Teacher Cadre working with special needs instruction, Fains is helping to facilitate a transformation of inclusive art instruction. Fains’ educational background includes a bachelor of fine arts degree in visual communications from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in art education, both from Towson University. Fains has won multiple awards and says that he is inspired by interacting with fellow educators by leading and participating in exhibitions, workshops, collaborative planning, and curriculum writing sessions.
In addition to serving as an art teacher at Golden Ring Middle, Gibson also serves as department chair and art lead teacher for the eastern zone of BCPS. In addition, Gibson created a student-driven art program at Golden Ring Middle called “Art for a Cause.” The program allows her students to use their artistic abilities to address issues that are relevant in their community. Gibson has worked at Golden Ring Middle for six years and has her master’s degree in leadership teaching in cultural proficiency from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She is working on her post-master’s certificate in administration and supervision from the same university.
“My philosophy of art education,” Gibson said, “is creating a safe space where students can foster their artistic abilities, providing opportunities for my students to make artworks that are meaningful for them, and providing an outlet to students to explore various components of the visual arts.”