College for Creative Studies: Art Practice (Fine Arts)
It’s an honor for a teacher to be nominated for Teacher of the Year. This spring (2018), Nina Weis (’88) won this prestigious award for a second year. She is the 2017 and 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Arts Educator of the Year Award presented by the Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division and the Farmington Area Arts Commission.
“It was quite an honor to be selected the first time, let alone two years in a row!” exclaimed Weis, who majored in fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (CCS). “I felt overwhelmingly honored and speechless. I feel so fortunate to have been nominated by my students and selected by the Arts Commission for something I love to do.”
The Outstanding Art Educator of the Year award is based on student nominations and a part of the annual High School Student Art Competition. Weis was honored at the Festival of the Arts Reception and Awards Ceremony held at the Costick Center in April (2018).
“I went into teaching art as a career because I have always loved the arts and strongly believe that they are not just a venue for self-expression, but can also be a powerful tool that allows for connecting with others,” she said.
Hired as an art teacher at Farmington High School (FHS) in 1996, Weis has taught Intro to Art, Ceramics 1-4, Drawing & Painting 1-4, Studio 1-4, Digital Photography 1-4 and Graphic Design 1-4. She also teaches AP Studio Art Drawing, AP Studio Art 2D and AP Studio Art 3D.
“I enjoy teaching the introductory classes because it is exciting to watch students find a new interest, and to assist them with their learning, while, hopefully, fostering an understanding of how beneficial the arts are for society,” Weis said.
“Teaching advanced level courses is gratifying because I get to help students who have a passion for making art and encourage them to stretch their skills and imagination—to not be afraid of making mistakes.”
Weis first realized how valuable an arts education is to an artist as a student at CCS. The experience provided her with technical abilities an artist needs and allowed her to understand the contributions of those that came before her. After graduating from the Fine Art Department, she worked at the College for several years before earning teacher certification and becoming a public school teacher.
“I still have strong ties to CCS and stay quite involved in the CCS community,” she said. “Four of my former FHS students are studying there now. Several have returned as guest speakers to share their CCS experience with our classes. One of our current FHS seniors has been awarded a scholarship to CCS and is looking forward to attending classes this coming fall."
“In addition to inviting CCS admissions staff to FHS, I’ve also taken students on fieldtrips to campus. The fieldtrip gave us the opportunity to see the Scholastic Arts Exhibit and allowed students to experience various studio art classes that day.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of Weis’ career is helping students compete in art competitions, like the High School Student Art Competition, and build portfolios that they can submit to colleges.
“I’ve been fortunate to help hard working, talented students win various art awards, including the Scholastic Arts Competition, and be granted scholarships to pursue art degrees,” said Weis. “It’s rewarding when those students contact me to share their successes after they have moved on from high school.”
As an educator, Weis believes it necessary to be genuine and motivate students to achieve their full potential.
“I would encourage any young person with a love for the arts and the willingness to work hard to pursue a career in art,” she said. “Both painting and teaching have brought me great satisfaction.”