Yeon Ji Park Wins A 2013 Blackboard Award For Teachers

What are some of the key joys and challenges of being an art teacher?

It is always a problem: How to explain abstract art as well as justify art-making to students and parents, especially to those who have not been informed about [its] benefits. I cannot stress it enough when I say that it is the best  when I hang up students’ works in our school hallways and see a whole gang of [students] standing around, discussing each other’s work and just beaming about their art! It’s so fun to feel the transformation of the classroom and hallway environment into a gallery space while we have critical discussions about their pieces. It’s especially gratifying for me when my sophomores and juniors approach me about attending art schools in the future.

Tell us about any special projects or initiatives you are most proud of this year. 

I try to be part of the step-by-step process of getting into art schools for those interested in art/architecture, by doing portfolio preparation. [The students and I] become like family by the time they get school acceptances.

Over the course of your career, what do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments to date? 

Some of the proudest moments for me are when I meet students [at an exhibition opening] who are now adults in the “real world” and they are working artists.

What drives you and keeps you motivated to continue your hard work as a teacher on a daily basis?

I feel so appreciated because I have so many troupes of students waiting at my door to ask me if I need help or just wanting to say “hi.” I don’t believe I could be receiving an award without the community of colleagues, students, and parents at my school who share smiles, commiseration, and encouragement with me. Even at the end of a long day, I hate leaving because I’m afraid I’m going to miss out.

For more information about the Blackboard Awards, visit