Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
Woodland Elementary School in Lacey, Washington has a new celebrity walking its halls. Well, sort of. Art teacher Anndria Cook was recently named the Elementary Art Educator of the Year in the state of Washington but the award didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone at the school and around the Woodland community.
Cook is well known for her unique teaching style and her students love to display the work that she teaches them about in the hallways of the school. As visitors stroll down the halls they are presented with such works as student self-portraits, handprint paintings, and sculptures known as “Chihuly-inspired” works that the Cook’s students make from plastic water bottles.
In fact, just about every single hallway in the elementary school displays some kind of art work from Cook’s students. Students, administrators, and parents alike all rave about the unique works of art that decorate the school, which is why it seemed only natural that she should receive such a prestigious award.
According to David Warning, the principal at Woodland Elementary, Cook is “extremely caring [and] very child-centered. She makes sure every child finds success every day.” For Cook’s part, she says that it is a “distinct honor” to be selected for the award and that the best part about it was that it came from her peers in the district and from other educators from around Washington.
Cook is a native of Lacey and was homeschooled during her upbringing before earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with teaching endorsements in literacy and arts education. She says that she is passionate about teaching art but that she started her career teaching music at various private schools around Lacey.
Art, according to Cook, “completely develops the brain and math will make more sense if you do it in art first.” Combining math and art is something that she is working to implement into her curriculum on a more consistent basis.