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Lab School art teacher Tullier-Holly named National Elementary Art Educator of the Year

Contact: Tonya Lowentritt


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Denise Tullier-Holly and student

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SOUTHEASTERN LAB SCHOOL TEACHER WINS NATIONAL AWARD – Southeastern Labortory School art teacher Denise Tullier-Holly (left) discusses a piece of artwork with her student Taylor Hebert.

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University Laboratory School art teacher Denise Tullier-Holly has been named the 2007 National Elementary Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association. 

     The award, which recognizes the exemplary contributions, service, and achievements of an outstanding NAEA member, will be presented to Tullier-Holly during the NAEA National Convention in New York City in March.

     “Ms. Tullier-Holly exemplifies the highly qualified individuals active in the field of art education today:  leaders, teachers, students, scholars, and advocates who give their best to the profession,” said NAEA President Susan Gabbard.

     Tullier-Holly, who received a master’s degree in education from Southeastern, began teaching art at the Laboratory School 13 years ago. “Denise is one of the most dedicated teachers I have seen in my 16 years in education,” said Lab School Principal Dr. Fawn Ukpolo.

     Tullier-Holly believes art education is important now more than ever.  She believes the creative processes used in art teaches students that there are a multitude of solutions to any problem.

     “In the real world, students are going to come up against all kinds of problems in their life,” she said. “They need to be able to come up with creative solutions to solve those problems.” 

     “Art gets you in touch with your own self.  What happens is students have to look inside themselves and that is challenging,” Tullier-Holly said.  “Sometimes you go places that you never thought you would ever go.  It’s very thought-provoking.  If we can all be in tune with that part of ourselves, then whatever we do when we get out in the real world, we’ll be in a better situation.”

     Tullier-Holly was nominated for the national award by her peers in the Louisiana Art Education Association before being selected by the NAEA. The NAEA membership includes elementary, secondary, middle level and high school art teachers in 50 states, representatives from America’s major art museums, State Departments of Education, art councils, and major colleges and universities throughout the United States and 66 foreign countries.

     Last year Tullier-Holly was named Southeast Regional Art Educator of the Year.  According to Tullier-Holly, the award is not just for what happens in the classroom, but for things that happen outside the classroom as well. 

     For Tullier-Holly, her national honor is not just about teaching. She mentors other art teachers and also makes presentations to her peers at the NAEA Convention.  “It’s service to the big organizations, like NAEA, it’s service to Louisiana art educators, it’s service to my community and the teaching experiences,” she said.

     When the Tangipahoa Parish School Board addressed the need for more art education in the curricula last year, Tullier-Holly and her fellow teachers were on hand to demonstrate what happens in art and music classes.  As a result, additional art and music teachers were hired this fall.

     “We basically want art education for every student in Tangipahoa Parish and in Louisiana,” Tullier-Holly said.

     Tullier-Holly has been inspired by many along the way, but remembers some specific words about art from retired Southeastern visual arts professor Gail Hood.  “She said, ‘Denise, make sure that it’s your own.  Make sure that you own it,’” Tullier-Holly said.  “Make certain it’s something of yourself, because the students will feel that.  If it’s something that you don’t know about or feel uncomfortable with, it’s not going to work.” 

     “That ownership of what I do, what I offer students is really, really important, and I thank Gail for those words,” Tullier-Holly said. 

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