A Passion for Teaching Children Through Art

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

Debi West ’92, Ed.S, NBCT has been teaching in Gwinnett County Georgia since 1993.  She teaches students via the visual arts at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, GA where she is the department chair of the art department and the fine arts co-chair, and she is the owner of the Crystal Collage Children’s Art Studio.

Debi is passionate about teaching children through the arts!  Debi is an advocate for art education and served as the President of the Georgia Art Education Association (2001-2007).  She has served on various boards for the National Art Education Association and is currently the NAEA Southeastern Vice President and has served as the Secondary Division Director, the Elementary Division Director, as well as the Southeastern Rep for the NAEA Advocacy Committee.  She has given over 80 motivational and educational speeches, locally, regionally, and nationally.  In 1997 and 1998 she was the national recipient of the Claire Flanagan Youth Art Month award, the top award for art advocacy, representing the state of Georgia.  Debi was the state Youth Art Month coordinator for 3 years, Conference coordinator 2000 and 2008 and Business Rep from 2008-2010.

Awards include:  2012 National Outstanding National Art Honor Society Sponsor; 2012 ArtWorks! Gwinnett FUSION Award recipient, Art Educator of the Year; 2011 Georgia Honorary Youth Art Month Art Educator; 2009 Georgia Art Educator of the Year; 2009 Woodruff Arts Center Leader in the Arts Honoree; 11 Alive Class Act Teacher Award, 2008; the NAEA Marion Quin Dix Leadership Award, 2006; Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalist, 2006; 2005 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year; 2005 National Elementary Art Educator of the Year, as well as the 2000 NAEA Southeastern Elementary Art Educator and the 1999 Georgia Elementary Art Educator.  She humbly accepts each of these awards on behalf of the thousands of children she has taught throughout the years.

She herself is an accomplished artist and author and is currently exhibited in several galleries in the Atlanta area.  She also exhibits annually in the GAEA juried member’s exhibit and the Art Institute Teacher Appreciation Show.  She has received national recognition for her work, “The Art of Making Art” showcased in the NAEA Electronic Exhibit, President’s Choice Award; New York, 2001.  She has published 10 books and resource guides and is a contributing editor for “Arts and Activities” magazine, creating their first ever monthly “curricular series”.  Her student’s work appears in “Emphasis Art” and the SRA Art books, “Art Connections”.  She exhibits her student’s art throughout the community, state, region and nation!  Her most recent Secondary Curriculum is based on service learning, “Art with Purpose.”

Debi earned her BA from the University of South Carolina in 1989 with a concentration in studio art.  She earned her art teaching certificate from the Moore College of Art and Design in 1992, her MAEd in 1999 (art education) from the University of Georgia and her Ed.S (art education) from UGA as well.  She is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Georgia and plans on completing her dissertation in the spring of 2016 in Language and Literacy.