Clemmons Elementary’s Frann Paige named Art Educator of the Year

Published 12:08 am Thursday, September 28, 2023

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CLEMMONS — The 2023-24 North Carolina Art Education Association Awards winners were recently announced, and Clemmons Elementary School Art Teacher Frann Paige was selected as Art Educator of the Year and Elementary Art Teacher of the Year.

Before joining Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Paige had a successful career in graphic arts, but she remembers wanting to teach more than anything, even back in high school.

She got her start somewhat incidentally when a substitute position opened up, and she quickly recognized a calling to work with students. Working in education has offered her unique challenges over the years, but she still finds the most fulfillment in helping kids find their passion in the arts.

“I love the little kids,” Paige said. “I love the moment when a lightbulb goes off, and they figure out something new.”

The NCAEA Awards are presented to educators with extensive track records of going above and beyond to enhance art education in their communities. The nominees submit applications built on their resumés, multiple letters of recommendation and portfolios of work they’ve done independently and that students have produced in their classes.

Paige was able to draw on a wealth of projects she’s worked on around Clemmons Elementary, including designs from the school’s Global Garden. She also had no shortage of photos when looking for examples of what her students have made.

“My phone is filled with art from kids,” Paige said. “I have so much from them, I can never find anything else that I’m looking for.”

Paige’s attachment to her students’ artwork is just one example of her commitment to the arts. In addition to teaching at Clemmons Elementary, she’s a Teacher Academy coach, a Teacher Residency program mentor, and a teacher at Forsyth Technical Community College. She never stops working to help somebody else learn.

Her drive has a lot to do with the transformative power of the arts that she’s been able to see in action. As great as the honor of the awards can be, the biggest reward for her is knowing that students feel empowered by what they learn in her class.

“I’m able to reach kids in a way that other teachers can’t,” Paige said. “If a student isn’t academically inclined, but they are artistically inclined, they find a home here.”

Superintendent Tricia McManus was also recognized with the Friend of the Arts award from the NCAEA. This award is given to principals and administrators with a history of supporting students in their artistic pursuits. McManus has displayed her commitment to advancing arts in education in myriad ways this year, most notably by establishing the Superintendent’s Gallery, which opened in January with over 100 pieces of student art on display at the district’s central office and will continue with new pieces each calendar year.

McManus called the arts an indispensable part of the district’s mission to enrich and engage every student, adding that she feels it’s much easier to be a supporter of the arts when the district is full of arts educators like Paige, who bring such passion and expertise to their jobs.

“The arts are so important for connecting kids to their schools and making learning relevant,” McManus said. “I am proud to say that our district has the best arts educators that I have ever met.”