Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills District 181 art teacher loves her work
Walker School art teacher Hillary Andrlik hugs students in a hallway at the school in Clarendon Hills. Andrlik is on maternity leave. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:42PM
CLARENDON HILLS — Being named the 2012 Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year isn’t the real reward for Hillary Andrlik.
The veteran art teacher in Hinsdale-Clarendon Elementary District 181 will receive her award Nov. 2 from the Illinois Art Education Association at its conference in Lisle.
What means a lot more to Andrlik is the relationship she has with her students. She previously taught art at Oak and Elm schools and is now at The Lane and Walker schools, though on leave for most of this school year after giving birth to her second child.
The way students at Walker feel about her was very evident Oct. 25 when she stopped at the school for a visit. As she walked down the hall, students came running to give her hugs and tell her they missed her.
“The award is very nice, and it’s a wonderful honor, but you can’t compare that to having that happen with the kids,” Andrlik said.
Andrlik has a passion both for art and the students she teaches.
“I get to do exactly what I love; this is a perfect fit for me,” she said. “I wanted to teach art as a kid. I’ve always loved art, and I come from a long line of teachers.”
The 2012 Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year award recognizes the exemplary contributions, service and achievements of one outstanding Illinois Art Education Association member annually. Andrlik was nominated for the award by Rachel Wade, a fourth-grade teacher at Walker School.
“The process she takes kids through is just amazing,” Wade said. “She is set up for children to be engaged, and they definitely are.”
The infusion of technology has been everywhere over the past 10 years, and it’s played a major role in Andrlik’s art classes, including connecting her classroom via Skype to art studios, using creative computer graphics art projects, and engaging use of online tools in her lessons.
She writes about many of her innovative teaching methods on the award winning art education blog at http://teachingpalette.com.
Andrlik said her biggest priority when teaching art is to help students “learn how to see.”
“I mean that not just in art, but with everything around them,” she said. “Art goes across cultures and historical lines.”