Alexis Zaccariello has always been immersed in art. Before joining Rochester Public Schools 12 years ago, she was an artist in Cleveland, Ohio, and before that, she worked in the Peace Corps in central Africa painting murals. Teachers like Alexis Zaccariello are the result of a colliding passion for art and education.
Art Educators of Minnesota (AEM) is a nonprofit organization serving K-12 teachers, museum educators, arts organizations, and students in art education programs. Each year, AEM selects four outstanding art educators from Elementary, Middle, Secondary, Higher Education, Museum Education, Service within Profession, and Administration, as Art Educators of the Year. From these categories, one educator is selected as Minnesota Art Educator of the Year. This year, our very own Alexis Zaccariello, art teacher at RALC, was selected as 2021-2022 Minnesota Art Educator of the Year.
Ms. Zaccariello says her students are her main motivators. She enjoys creating opportunities for them to explore their artistic side and open space to take a break from all the coursework and tests.
“Ms. Zaccariello is my favorite teacher,” said RALC student Abigail, who likes to spend some of her free time in Zaccariello’s class. “She is so attentive, and she makes me feel seen. She not only cares about our work but our well-being. She caters to our learning style and takes the time to teach us in a way that is ideal for each of her students individually. I’m not really surprised she got this award; she is so deserving of it.”
What makes her most excited about being an art teacher is seeing her students enjoy what they are making and discovering a new passion. Her favorite part of the school day is when she can meet students one-on-one and discuss what is working and what is not working and problem-solve with them.
“This award is validating,” said Zaccarielo. “It feels good to be recognized after all these years being in this field, and it allows me to think ‘okay, I am doing something right,’ and it inspires me to keep on learning and getting better.”
Ms. Zaccariello will represent the state of Minnesota nationally at the Western Region event at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Convention in New York City held from March 2-5, 2022.