Vista Heights Art Teacher is Art Teacher of the Year

Cheryl Conder is the Digital Photography & Yearbook Teacher at Vista Heights Middle School in Moreno Valley, CA. She received her BA in Arts Education, Minor Studio Art (Photography), as well as her single subject credential form Cal State San Bernardino in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Prior to teaching in the classroom, Cheryl worked as an elementary art educator for Riverside Art Museum’s Art-2-GO Program. She also served as the Chief Lithographer (E-7) for the United States Navy from 1984-2004. She is a recent presenter and participant/coordinator for district, state, and national STEAM summits and expos and a site coordinator for Moreno Valley Unified School District art shows and youth art month shows.
“Teaching children to understand how art connects to life, teaching a variety of skills and related concepts learned in the art classroom, to the diverse culture of today, is my teaching philosophy. Inspiring my students to be art makers, art translators, art interpreters, art historians and becoming a productive part of society, is an essential concept in my art classroom. Teaching my students to have their own voice and stand tall in their beliefs, yet knowing how to be humble enough to ask for help. Learning and using these ideas are carried with them, helping them explore who they are and whom they have the potential to become, yet, much of society sees art as an extravagance; insignificant or an unimportant part of an education. Extracurricular. The ideas I bring to my art students are vast and are driven by my passion for art to be accessible to all. Demonstrating and teaching that there are many interpretations of what is visible in our daily surroundings and how that can be beautiful to each individual who takes in what they see, being okay that each person’s viewpoint can differ. Teaching my students that art is a necessity, connecting to practically everything we see, touch and use daily and that just like the rest of society, art in the classroom is constantly changing; I move my students with the change. It takes educators teaching with heart, recognizing the diversity of their students, using interdisciplinary connections, using technology, using the diverse cultures in which we teach. Using care and love in lessons that are current and relevant to today’s students. This is not extracurricular. It is being an art teacher of today.“