News release from the University of Saint Francis:
USF alumna Outstanding Indiana Art Educator of the Year
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(October 26, 2011) – Mary Hilger, an art teacher at Indian Springs Middle School in Columbia City and a University of Saint Francis alumna, has been named Outstanding Indiana Art Educator of the Year by the Art Education Association of Indiana (AEAI).
Hilger was nominated by peers for outstanding artistic achievement and service in education. She will receive her award on Nov. 5 in Indianapolis during the AEAI annual convention.
Hilger has demonstrated her commitment to teaching and raising awareness of the arts. A Scholastic Art Award Competition advisory board member, she received a Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant to study Michelangelo in Italy, creating drawings and publishing illustrated books. An arts advocate and summer art camp teacher for 25 years, she facilitated a Japan student exchange and has discovered opportunities for her students to exhibit their work.
“God is using me as an instrument to spread His love through the gift of art,” Hilger said. She has worked with multiple churches and religious groups, creating impromptu chalk drawings for charity. She presented her portrait of Mother Therese to the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, and it now hangs in Mother Therese’s Mother House in Calcutta, India. She also gifted Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI with portraits. An auction of her artwork has raised funds for the education of children in Abakaliki, Nigeria.
“Mary is a very giving art educator and spends much of her time helping others to achieve their best, reaching out to share her artistic gifts with the larger community and the world,” said Terri Nagel, a Fort Wayne Community Schools art teacher who nominated Hilger for the award.
Indian Springs Middle School principal Jan Boylen also praised Hilger. “Mary shares her knowledge and passion with each of our students. She strives to gain recognition for her students, even at national levels, for their artistic talents,” she said. Hilger completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education at Saint Francis College, now University of Saint Francis.
The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 60 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs in five schools: The School of Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Creative Arts. More than 2,300 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence. The university has a regional campus in Crown Point, Ind.