I have chosen to nominate Mrs. DeGregory, the Cab Calloway visual arts teacher and one of the most helpful educators I have ever known. She is my highlight of middle school and makes Cab Calloway School worth every minute.
When you attend a class that Mrs. DeGregory teaches, whether it’s a 3D-design elective or a class for your major in art, you always learn something new. I learned all about color theory and how to correctly portray perspective. Mrs. DeGregory makes these concepts easy to understand. She has her specialties, of course, but even in subjects that she doesn’t have as much experience in, she still teaches with ease.
Mrs. DeGregory also shows students what they can do with the material. When you take a math course, you rarely find out how to use the idea in the real world. Mrs. DeGregory dedicates an entire unit to learning about careers that require an art degree and how art pairs up with academics. Over the three years that I attended her class, she brought in many guests with art-related jobs. Twice, she had a forensic anthropologist in to teach us about his work: he re-creates faces by adding “flesh” (clay) to skulls to portray what a person would look like. I never would have known this, or about other interesting careers, without taking Mrs. DeGregory’s class.
Mrs. DeGregory is one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the privilege to be taught by. She helped me reach inside and pull out some amazing artwork from places I never knew I had. At the end of eighth grade she assigned a project to interview a family member about an event – either happy or traumatic – and create artwork depicting the emotions we felt. The assignment was pure genius, and she taught it in a way that really allowed us to take what we felt and put it on paper; I never could have achieved what I did without Mrs. DeGregory.
I hope Mrs. DeGregory receives this award, because she truly deserves it. I can’t think of a person who has influenced my life more. She is easily the best teacher I’ve ever had and will probably top any instructor I have in the future. She has given me so many opportunities – from entering the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition to organizing amazing art exhibits in our school’s gallery space. She needs to receive credit for the work she has put into changing so many students’ lives.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.