Country Day teacher lauded


La Jolla Country Day School teacher Ann Chaitin recently received the 2009 Margot Stern Strom Teaching Excellence Award, presented by the international educational nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves.

Chaitin, who has taught the group’s curriculum for many years at Country Day, was selected based on her project proposal to create a new art class, “Art with a Message,” a news release stated.

Her students are working on an exhibit that will open May 14.

Chaitin is the coordinator for Facing History, an interdisciplinary course culminating in her art class. She will use funds to supplement the class with additional resources, some field trips and speakers.

The mission of Facing History and Ourselves is “to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice and anti-semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.” Each year, the group presents the award “to teachers who demonstrate a commitment to fostering reflective, interactive and rigorous learning environments in their classrooms.”

Chaitin said she plans to have the students create art projects that show how the students consider his or her own role in contributing to a more humane society. “For some students, it is hard to literally speak out, to find the words, and I see the arts as a way for them to achieve what I call a ‘visual voice.’

In this new class, I hope to not only encourage and develop their visual voice, but have the time and opportunity to show them how others have used that visual voice to bring about change, stimulate dialogue, effect protest and perpetuate memory,” Chaitin said.

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