Alisa Petersen, Southern Utah University’s Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair of Elementary Arts Education, has been named the 2016 Higher Education Art Educator of the Year by the Utah Art Education Association (UAEA). She was nominated by her students and K-12 teachers across the state for her dedication to increasing the presence of art in elementary education.
In her professional role, Petersen works with the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program. She arranges trainings and workshops in 32 southern Utah schools for children, teachers and art specialists. She also runs ArtsFusion, a program designed to increase the quantity and quality of arts education experiences for children in southern Utah.
Additionally, she facilitates the Art, Music and Me Kids Summer Camp, arranges professional artist outreach visits to remote schools, and trains teachers how to connect art to other disciplines. “I am constantly searching for new ways to incorporate art in education,” she said.
According to Dean Shawn Christiansen, SUU College of Education and Human Development, Petersen’s influence on art education in southern Utah is profound. “Through her countless trainings, programs, camps and mentoring, she has increased and insured the presence of art in K-12 schools for many years to come,” he said.
“Not only is her impact seen in the artwork hanging on our campus, but also on refrigerators in family homes throughout southern Utah,” Christiansen said. “Thousands of children and teachers see the world differently for being enriched by art.”
Petersen expressed excitement and gratitude for being selected to receive the award. “My goal is to help teachers and students increase their creative capacity,” she said. “My mother taught me to love art – that love inspires me to work to provide children with more creative opportunities in school.
The Utah Art Education Association advocates for and increases the quality of visual arts education through professional development, collaboration and leadership opportunities. Petersen will be formally presented with the award Feb. 24, at the UAEA Conference in St George, UT.