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Professor receives national award

May 1, 2019
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Cindy Todd
Cindy Todd. Courtesy KCAD

A local art professor has received a national award from her peers.

Cindy Todd, professor and chair of the art education programs at the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, or KCAD, was given the National Art Educator Award by the National Art Education Association, or NAEA.

The award is given annually to one NAEA member for “outstanding service on a national level.”

The association also awarded Todd the Western Region Art Educator Award and the Western Region Higher Education Art Educator Award.

“Dr. Cindy Todd is an art teacher’s teacher,” said Dennis Inhulsen, chief learning officer, NAEA. “She exemplifies everything needed to support our nation’s future art educators and the students they will serve. Through genuine experience as a classroom art educator, she has transformed herself into someone who nurtures, enlightens and celebrates learning in and through art.”

Todd said: “If we’re not encouraging our students to go beyond their college courses and enlarge their perspective, then we’re doing them a disservice. If ours are the only views our students are exposed to, we risk them becoming near-sighted. We get our students involved in the big picture, because we don’t just want them to personally succeed. We want them to lead.”

Todd has served as president of the Michigan Art Education Association and VP of NAEA’s western region.

She was also a member of the special NAEA Leadership Task Force, which worked to revamp the organization’s leadership and outreach strategies, creating the NAEA School for Art Leaders seven-month leadership program for art teachers.

Todd is an invited participant in Michigan’s Arts Round Table, which helped ensure funding for STEAM education, not just STEM.

In 2010, she co-created the Grand Rapids Art Museum educational program Language Artists, which integrates literacy and the visual arts to help third-graders develop reading, writing, critical thinking and collaboration skills. Since its inception, the program has been awarded three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and helped improve writing proficiency scores on the M-STEP standardized test by 40%.

Since 2011, Todd has been a key designer on the collaborative team that created and guides curriculum of Grand Rapids Public Schools’ newest theme school, the Public Museum School, which won a $10-million grant in 2015.

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