Nacogdoches ISD’s fine arts program has earned its second award this year.

The district was notified Thursday it was named a 2019-20 Texas Art Education Association District of Distinction. In March, shortly after the school closure in Texas because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NISD was recognized as a National Association of Music Merchants 2020 Best Community for Music Education.

“This is just such an incredible honor for our school district,” said Paulette Tomlinson, NISD’s Director of Fine Arts. “This places our visual art program in the top 4% in Texas.”

NISD’s visual art teachers worked as a team, Tomlinson said, to complete a rigorous set of requirements to even be considered for the award. That includes having students participate in art competitions and events, and teachers taking part in professional development. NISD is one of just 42 districts in Texas to receive this honor.

“I’m so proud of our art students and teachers,” said NISD Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo. “This is an outstanding achievement for the district, and they all deserve to be honored for their work.”

The recognition for the fine arts program comes after a spring semester drastically altered by the pandemic. NISD students left for spring break on March 6 and did not return to in-person instruction the remainder of the semester.

“It is a well-deserved honor for our art department, recognizing the hours of hard work and passion that goes into providing a robust visual art program opportunity for every student in the district,” Tomlinson said.

“And all that on top of the challenges presented by the COVID-19-related shutdown.”

NISD’s visual arts met or exceeded a 12-point rubric, which examines a district’s visual art program from participation in TAEA through membership, exhibitions, and contests to community engagement in the visual arts through field experiences, community service and collaboration with other content areas.

“We were impressed and proud of your level of participation in visual art learning experiences at all grade levels, despite the many education challenges you faced this past spring,” Stacia Gower wrote in a letter to the district. Gower is visual art coordinator at Humble ISD and oversees the TAEA contest.

Tomlinson said the award brings recognition to NISD’s remarkable art students, as well as their hard-working, passionate teachers.

“I’m truly humbled by the dedication of our art teachers and the immense talent of our students,” said Tomlinson. “I’m honored to work alongside them, and watch fine arts flourish in Nacogdoches ISD.”

Les Linebarger is communications director for Nacgodoches ISD.

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