Art is a universal language that everyone can understand and all students are artists, according to art teacher Kelly Rae Vo.
Vo’s inclusive classroom and instructional practices have resulted in her being named as the recipient of the Inclusive Education Practices Award for the 2017-18 school year in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, according to Stephanie White, the district’s director of student services.
The award was created by the District 191 Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) to recognize staff members who are fostering meaningful inclusion of students with disabilities in classrooms and extracurricular activities. SEAC is comprised of parents, community members, school staff and administrators who advise the special education department on policy and program planning.
Students enjoy Vo’s art class and know they are honored as people and that all of them have an “art gift” to share and express themselves, according to two teachers who nominated Vo for the award: Mary Borrell, a special education teacher at Vista View Elementary, and Emily Goldsmith, a speech pathologist at Vista View and William Byrne.
“Kelly inspires her co-workers, families, and students to believe in themselves and to hold high standards for all students no matter their disability area,” wrote Borrell and Goldsmith. “She is the definition of inclusion and it is evident in how students, staff and families see her as a teacher. "
Vo provides clear and concise directions for students and will show a model of the finished product. She recognizes different learning styles, incorporates classroom behavioral contracts that include all students, and finds an "Art All-Star" everyday.
Vo is the daughter of an art teacher and has always had art as part of her life. She joined District 191 five years ago and taught this year at Gideon Pond, Vista View and Marion W. Savage Elementary Schools.
Her goal is to create classrooms where all students are accepted, feel welcomed and included and can participate.
“Students bring fresh ideas,” said Vo. “I’m inspired and amazed by their ideas and originality every day.”
“I’m honored to receive the award and be noticed for dedication and passion for our students and their learning,” she adds.
Others nominated for the award this year are:
- Amy Stead, Molly Holmes, Ann Bakken, and Jaclyn Anderson, members of Burnsville High School theater team
- Jenn Carlson, Hidden Valley
- Alexandria Wills, Hidden Valley
- Stephanie Jorgenson, Burnsville High School
- Jacqueline Parkinson, Eagle Ridge
- Brionna Meisner, Edward Neill
- Emily Rasmusson, Gideon Pond.