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U of M Professor of Art Education Honored with Beverly Levett Gerber Special Needs Lifetime Achievement Award University News
For release: January 1, 2009

For press information, contact Simone Notter Wilson, 901/678-4164

Donalyn Heise, assistant professor of art education and art education program coordinator, was chosen to be the first recipient of the Beverly Levett Gerber Special Needs Lifetime Achievement Award. The Award is part of The National Art Education Association's (NAEA) Special Needs Issues Group awards and symbolizes a new collaboration between NAEA, The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and VSA arts (formerly Very Special Arts). It recognizes art educators who foster and honor the unique contributions of students with special needs, and is named for Beverly Levett Gerber, professor emeritus of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University.

Heise will be presented with the award during NAEA's 2009 National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 17-21, 2009. "We are very proud to have such outstanding faculty," says Richard Ranta, Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. "The award is a great testament of Heise's exemplary contributions to the field of visual arts education and her commitment and service to the profession."

At the 2009 Convention, Heise will present "The Power of Example," which focuses on notable African American Architect Paul Reverse Williams as an example of how art can become a powerful tool to overcoming obstacles. Heise will also share pedagogical practices for empowering at risk youth through community art-based initiatives from her research presentation about the L.I.F.E. Community Art Project, which was a four-months pilot project this past spring, involving middle and high school students from the Charles Powell Community Center in Southwest Memphis as well as faculty and students from the Art Museum of the University of Memphis and the University's Department of Art. The project was made possible by an Access and Diversity grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Just recently, Heise was also recognized for her work by the Tennessee Art Education Association (TAEA), which honored her with the 2008 TAEA Outstanding Higher Education Art Educator of the Year Award, given to an outstanding Tennessee art educator whose dedication to art education merits recognition and acclaim.

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