The nation’s leading professional membership group for visual arts educators has bestowed a prestigious leadership award on Mississippi College’s art education program coordinator.
Representatives of the National Art Education Association presented the NAEA Mary Quinn Dix Leadership Award to Dr. Stephanie Busbea during the Mississippi Art Education Association’s Awards 2021 ceremony on Nov. 12.
The award recognizes outstanding contributions and service to the profession by a current or past state/province association officer in the performance and/or development of specific programs, goals, or activities at the state/province association level.
Busbea, professor of art at MC, served as president-elect of the MAEA from 2015-17, president from 2017-19, and past president from 2019-21. She had also served on the NAEA Convention Delegates Assembly from 2017-19, on the National Leadership Conference in 2016 and 2018, on the Mississippi Arts Commission Arts Education Panel in 2012, 2015, and 2020, and as the MAEA Fall and Spring Conference Coordinator from 2015-18, among other appointments.
The leadership award is presented in honor of the NAEA’s third president, in recognition of Dix’s pioneering work in the development of the organization as a national professional association.
Dr. Randolph B. Miley, professor and chair of art at MC, said he was excited to see Busbea receive the honor.
“The NAEA is a very big organization that represents art teachers from around the world,” said Miley, past president of the MAEA. “This is one of the elite awards the association gives out. It’s been a long time since we’ve been selected for a top award, and the national recognition that we get is pretty incredible.
“We’re a very small state with a little over 100 members as opposed to New York and Florida that each have several hundred members, so we get a lot of attention when a big award comes our way.”
Professor of art at MC since 1997 and a former adjunct instructor of art, Busbea holds a B.S.E. in art education from Arkansas State University, an M.A.Ed. in art education from the University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. in art education from the University of North Texas. She serves the Christian University as assistant chair of the Department of Art, art education coordinator and advisor, student teaching supervisor, and graduate reader.
Recipient of three MAEA awards, including the Higher Education Art Educator of the Year honor in 2012, Busbea now has been nominated for another national award – the 2021 NAEA Pre-Service Art Educator of the Year award.
“Dr. Busbea exemplifies outstanding leadership and through her diligent service as past president of the MAEA, has significantly contributed to the success of the organization,” Miley said. “Under her leadership, MAEA is poised to assume a leadership role and better serve as a strategic force in shaping the climate for a stronger visual arts education in the state.”
Busbea wasn’t the only art educator with MC connections to receive hardware during the ceremony. Four MC alumni were recognized by the MAEA with 2021 Art Educator Awards.
Susan Hodges, who obtained her B.S.Ed. and her M.Ed. in art from MC, received the 2021 MAEA Middle Division Art Educator of the Year Award. The Florence High School and Florence Middle High School art teacher taught art at Gary Road Intermediate and Byram Middle School.
Courtney Melton, who received her Master of Education in Art and her Master of Fine Arts in 3D Studio from MC, received the 2021 MAEA Secondary Division Art Educator of the Year Award. A 2019 National Board-Certified Teacher, she teaches ceramics and works with the music students at Madison Central High School.
“Courtney really enjoys teaching at the high school level and it is apparent in her attitude in the classroom,” Busbea said. “She not only teaches ceramics, but also stage design. She gives countless hours to helping students design and build award-winning sets for their show choir and theater performances.
“Courtney also takes student teachers in order to train the next generation of high school art teachers.”
Vicky Miley, who earned her M.Ed. in art education at MC and serves as an adjunct instructor of art history at the Christian University, received the 2021 MAEA Emeritus Art Educator of the Year Award. The MAEA historian has served the association as president, president-elect, secretary/treasurer, membership chair, and member of the Delegates’ Assembly.
The 2018 NAEA Outstanding Southeastern Regional Art Educator of the Year, Miley established the MAEA Archive Collection at Mississippi College. It is housed in the Department of Art. She retired from teaching at Pearl High School in 2017.
Summer Nation, who obtained her M.Ed. in art education from MC, received the 2021 Bill Poirier MAEA Outstanding Art Educator of the Year Award. A former MAEA president, president-elect, and member of the Delegates’ Assembly, she launched the initial ceramics program at Germantown High School and has taught at Madison Central High School, Jim Hill High School, and Bailey Magnet High School.
“Not only does she present strong, original lessons,” Busbea said, “she makes relevant connections to her students through art.”
As past president of the MAEA, Miley succeeded Busbea; in turn, the current MAEA president, Elise Payne, and the MAEA president-elect, Renna Moore, each attended Mississippi College. Miley said that successive representation in the organization’s leadership structure by current and former Choctaws bodes well for art education throughout the state.
“That’s important because, in this state, art education is pretty much in our hands,” he said. “MC and William Carey University are the only two Mississippi universities with substantial art education programs, and MC is the only one with a master’s degree program.
“If you look at the art educators in the metro Jackson area, they’re going to come through MC for either their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Having the only master’s program puts us in a substantial leadership position, and we’re proud to take on that responsibility.”
Miley said MC’s performance in the NAEA and MAEA awards categories underscores the vitality of the art department’s faculty and students, so he was thrilled that Dr. Blake Thompson, MC president, was able to attend the gala.
“More than three-fourths of all the people at the event had some sort of MC background,” he said. “MC opened the Art Program in 1955 as a studio art program and then added art education, so art education and studio art are in our lifeblood. We take that role very seriously.
“With the climate here in our art department, with all the recognition we’ve been gaining, we are really hitting some high notes right now,” he said. “It’s just been a great time for art.”
Founded in 1947 and based in Virginia, the NAEA includes members from elementary school teachers through college professors and students seeking to become art educators. NAEA members promote mentoring and networking, and they attend art education conferences across the USA.
Likewise, the MAEA’s mission is to promote art education through professional development, service, advancement of knowledge, and leadership. The organization is made up of art educators who are passionate in their commitment to the necessity of art in developing creative processes that benefit all students.
MAEA members believe the arts teach students creative problem-solving that they can apply to life, professionally or personally. The MAEA provides the tools to implement these skills by keeping teachers on the cutting edge of art education.