Tyler School of Art Professor Receives National Recognition

Dr. Lisa Kay, Temple University’s Tyler School of Art Assistant Professor of Art Education, has received a national award for her work in special needs art education.

On March 17th, Kay accepted the Peter J. Geisser Special Needs Art Educator of the Year award in Chicago at the National Art Education Association convention. She has been recognized as one of the most highly qualified active art educators for special needs in the entire industry.

The award was presented by the NAEA, Council for Exceptional Children, an international special education center, and VSA, an international nonprofit centered on arts, disability, and education.

“It’s really special,” said Lisa Kay. “There are a lot of people that have shaped this field and to have my name added to that list, it’s a humbling experience.”

A seasoned art therapist who has worked in a hospital, private practice, and a special education school, Dr. Kay blends art education and art therapy in her Intro to Art Therapy class. Throughout the course, she teaches her students on preparing them to educate special needs individuals ranging with emotional, social emotional, and physical disabilities.

Although she is impacting her students on a daily basis, she mentions that what they {her students} bring to the table helps her develop a comfortable learning environment.

“I really enjoy their energy and their passion, and I like to ignite that,” Kay noted. “When you see the work that they’re doing and you’re in this together, it’s a collaborative learning environment.”

In 2011, Kay received a Fulbright U.S. Scholars Award, traveling to Hungary to gather research on the impact of trauma on students’ art work. She credits her current success to learning from art educators in Hungary about psychological and emotional effects of trauma and students art work. Kay also developed a project with Hungarian art educators on “ugly and beautiful drawings” to compare how special needs children in Hungary and the United State view positive and negative things in life. She explains how impactful they’ve been in terms of educating those at Temple and in the Philadelphia community.

“Currently, I’ve brought in all aspects of what I’ve done in Hungary. I’m developing a trauma reform art curriculum for art teachers and art therapists,” she says. “I had a sabbatical last year and did some work with adolescents at Carson Valley Children’s Aid outside of Philadelphia and I tested this curriculum that was based on Dicker-Brandeis’ work, my own practices and art therapists, and contemporary art education. So I want to put it out there for art teachers,” Kay adds.

Moving forward, her goal is to continue to educate her students (and future special needs teachers) and give them a perspective on how to succeed in the industry.

“My goal is to help them develop compassion and understanding for their students and themselves.”







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