Holt Crossing art teacher Mandy Howard has been honored with the Ohio Art Education Association Central Region's 2013 Outstanding Art Teacher award.
Howard was nominated by one of her peers and art teachers from around the central region voted on the award.
"Getting this award is humbling and it has even more meaning because it comes from my fellow art teachers," Howard said. "It truly is an honor."
Howard has taught at Holt Crossing since the school opened in 2001. She has also taught at Brookpark Middle School.
"This is the only district I've taught in and I grew up going to South-Western schools," Howard said. "I'm so blessed to be able to work in this district, because I know how special it is."
It was one of her own art teachers, Nancy Householder, who helped inspire Howard's love of art and her desire to teach, she said.
"I always loved creating things, and she really opened my eyes to the experience of art," Howard said. "And seeing how she worked with her students and the impact she had on them, I thought that was something I would love to do."
Householder taught her students the rewards of art were not based on how much "talent" one had, she said.
"A student would tell her, 'but I'm not an artist,' and she would make them feel good about what they were able to do," Howard said.
She said she tries to teacher her own students that lesson.
"My goal is to inspire students in having confidence in their artistic ability, whatever that is," Howard said. "I want them to enjoy creating art and not worry about how good it is."
Their experience in art will help them as an adult make creative choices, whether its decorating a room or choosing a wardrobe, she said.
Fifth and sixth grade "is to me the best age level to teach," Howard said. "Some teachers can't imagine that, but I love it."
Her students have reached an age where, "You don't have to be totally hands on, they have some independence," she said. "At the same time, they haven't quite developed the attitude that starts maybe at the end of sixth grade."
Intermediate age students "still need you to give them approval," Howard said. "They are still eager to learn and please their teacher."