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Alumna named Teacher of the Year for excellence in art education

  • Photo of Tricia Erickson with her Teacher of the Year award

Posted on November 13, 2017

Tricia Erickson, ’05, was recently awarded for excellence in teaching during her 13-year career as an art educator. She was named the 2017 Teacher of the Year, as well as Secondary Art Educator of the Year, during the Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA)'s annual Fall Conference, which took place November 2-5 in Detroit.

Erickson, who recently completed her 10th year of teaching at Northview High School, said her love for art has been present ever since she was a shy child because she used it to connect with others.

“I remember my first day of kindergarten and being so nervous,” Erickson explained. “My mother leaned over and said, ‘Why don't you draw a picture?’ As soon as I did, I calmed down, and within a few minutes, another little girl was standing there watching me and complimenting my drawing. Before I knew it, more kids came over and I was drawing all kinds of different things to show them.”

Erickson said her goal as an educator is to develop young artists and to foster an appreciation for art in all students.

“Whether you create art for yourself or for others, putting what you see down on paper or making an experience come to life is vital to helping people from different backgrounds come together, and it increases empathy and understanding,” she explained.

In addition to teaching at Northview High School, Erickson has also previously served as an adjunct professor at Grand Valley, and taught at summer enrichment camps through the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Northview’s summer enrichment program.

After graduating from Grand Valley with a bachelor’s degree in art education and French, she earned her master’s degree in art education from Kendall College of Art and Design in 2010.

Erickson was nominated by her colleagues for both her teaching abilities and for the time she has dedicated volunteering for the MAEA outside of the classroom. For example, she served as co-chair of the planning committee for the 2015 MAEA Fall Conference, which was held in Grand Rapids.

Erickson said presenting at multiple MAEA conferences created a personal network of art educators from across West Michigan, and she credits this award to them as well as her family members who support and encourage her.

“I think what this award means to me is that I have a lot of good people in my life because I could never do half of the things I do without them," she said. 

- Story by Marissa LaPorte, student writer