Harrison named Elementary Art Educator of the Year

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Clanton Elementary School’s Julie Harrison has been named the Alabama Art Education Association’s 2017 Elementary Art Educator of the Year.

Harrison has taught art at Clanton Elementary for the past 17 years.

Harrison was nominated for the award by Sharon Christman, a Mountain Brook Schools retired teacher.

“I thought that was a big honor,” Harrison said.

Christman had met Harrison while they were serving on the Arts Education State Course of Study Committee last year.

Harrison said that Christman “knew my drive for art education” from their time serving on the committee together.

When Harrison received an email saying she had been selected, she was surprised.

“I was very shocked because this is a state award, and, for me, I thought, ‘Wow! How could I be so blessed to be nominated for this and receive this?'” Harrison said.

Harrison received the award at the annual AAEA conference on Oct. 27, 2017.

As a part of the selection process, Harrison submitted two letters of recommendation. One was from former CES Assistant Principal Robin Cagle, and the other was from CES teacher Heather McNeill. Both “spoke highly” of Harrison’s art programs, she said.

Harrison also submitted information on her classes, art projects, associations, degrees and awards.

Among these highlights were the CES annual art show, coordinating exhibition of students’ work outside of the school, first place awards in the Peach Festival Art Show and having art displayed and purchased at the Montgomery Museum of Art.

Harrison holds masters’ degrees in Elementary Education and Instructional Leadership, as well as an Educational Specialist Degree in Teacher Leadership and bachelors’ degrees in Visual Art and Elementary Education.

In addition to teaching classes for 800 students at Clanton Elementary, Harrison has also been involved in art programs at her church and the library.

“My interest in art started in fifth grade,” Harrison said.

Although her school did not have an art class, she took lessons with Artist Scarlet Teel. These lessons continued until Harrison graduated from high school.

“I always had that creative style and a desire for things to look good and be aesthetically pleasing,” Harrison said.

Harrison said Teel helped this interest in art grow.

“I’m thankful for her,” Harrison said. “I think she got me started.”

Harrsion said her mother Becky Neussl also helped her develop as an artist by encouraging her to do things well.