Beloved art instructor named Teacher of the Year

Art runs deep in Heather Anderson's family

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  • Heather Anderson, shortly after being surprised with the KRHS Teacher of the Year award photos provided

  • When she's not teaching or creating art, Heather Anderson loves enjoying nature's beauty with her family. Here are the Andersons at The Grand Canyon.

By Laurie Gordon

— Heather Anderson has been named Kittatinny Regional High School's Teacher of the Year. KRHS Principal Brian Bosworth, with administrators Robert Black and Ellen Kolonoski, entered her eighth-period sculpture class to present her with the award. They had also made arrangements for her husband –who also teaches at Kittatinny--and her eldest son-- who is a student at the school--to be present for the special occasion. Anderson has been a teacher in the Creative Arts Department at Kittatinny since 2000.

“I was very surprised!" Anderson said, about the administrators walking into her class with the award. "I am extremely flattered because my colleagues nominated me. I work with some amazing individuals so I continue to feel honored and blessed.”

Anderson grew up in Wantage, New Jersey, and went to High Point High School where she graduated in 1995. She went on to Millersville University, in Pennsylvania, where she graduated in 1999. While at Millersville, she met her husband and fellow teacher, Brandt.

Anderson had art and artists in her family.

“There is a long history of artists on my mother's side of the family including my great grandfather, John Rea Neil, who was one of the illustrators of the Oz books," she said. "My grandmother was an amazing pastel artist and museum curator in Cape Cod Massachusetts. She and I would set up easels on the beaches of Cape Cod and draw for hours. She was a strong, friendly and humble individual who I still admire very much today. She unfortunately passed away from cancer in 2003.”

Anderson's philosophy about teaching is "to make it fun and interesting.”

“It's about challenging students to find their own voice and enjoy the process, even if they stumble a few times along the way," she said. "I like to introduce them to as many different forms of art and materials as I can. The potters wheel, handbuilding with clay and pressing textures such as leaves into slabs, plaster casting, watercolor, 'upcycling' materials, oils, pastel, and I am currently looking into doing a group mosiac mural project with some artists within the community. I like to take students to as many field trips as I can, to expose them to as many artists and techniques as possible. Some examples include: The Met in New York City, Raku Pottery firings in Peters Valley, Storm King in New York, Teen Arts at the County College, and I usually have multiple guest artist speakers come to the school to do demonstrations.”

Anderson has had her role models.

“I was lucky to have many teachers and coaches who had a profound impact on my life. I knew from an early age that I wanted to 'pay it forward' and also help students the way I was inspired. One individual who helped me realize my passion for art was my high school art teacher Diane Sorcik. We still keep in touch to this day. In fact, I continue to do a project which I originally learned about through Diane called 'Empty Bowls' in which we sell pottery/art prints during our annual craft fair and then donate proceeds to our local soup kitchen Manna House. I have the students run the entire event, creating the art, working the cash, box, and answering questions while manning the table.”

While her husband teaches Social Studies at KRHS, her oldest son Brady is at the school in 7th grade.

“It is nice to have the same schedule as your family such as holiday breaks," Anderson said. "There are actually many married couples at Kittatinny. I am a 'cycle' class with the junior high rotation so I taught Brady in one of those rotations Marking Period One. It was actually very nice and I enjoyed having him. I'm sure it was interesting for him to see me in a different role.”

Some schools are getting rid of art curriculum and the like. Of this, Anderson said, “I truly feel that the arts needs to be preserved. I feel fortunate to have the administration's support on this. Students need to exercise all areas of the brain, and many students need to have a creative outlet where they can express themselves in a positive manner. They are solving spacial design problems while learning about new techniques, art history, cultures, skills and new mediums. Whether art becomes intertwined in their career or just a hobby, it can enrich their lives greatly.”

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