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DD2 Arts Educators Receive State Honors

Two Dorchester School District Two arts educators received recognition from the South Carolina Arts Education Association (SCAEA) for excellence in arts education and advocacy.

Natalie Schwieger from Alston Middle School received the 2023 Middle Level Art Educator of the Year Award, and Stephanie Shank from Fort Dorchester High School received the 2023 Youth Art Month Award.

Natalie Schwieger - 2023 Middle Level Art Educator of the Year Award

This award recognizes Ms. Schwieger’s arts education advocacy and her exceptional teaching and program development. Ms. Schwieger has taught art for 14 years and been a member of SCAEA for 13 years. Continually raising the bar for visual arts programming at Alston Middle School, she serves on the District’s Fine Arts Leadership Committee, leads the school’s Fine Arts Steering Committee, and established her school’s National Junior Art Honor Society. She has written nine grants to receive a total of approximately $144,000 from the Distinguished Arts Program through the South Carolina Department of Education.

“As an art teacher, my ultimate goal is to inspire my students to express themselves creatively and find their own unique voice through art,” said Ms. Schwieger. “I have always believed that art is a powerful tool for self-expression and personal growth. My teaching style centers around encouraging my students to explore their own creativity and to take risks in their artmaking.”

Stephanie Shank - 2023 Youth Art Month Award

This award recognizes Ms. Shank’s outstanding advocacy for Youth Art Month on the local, state, and national levels. Ms. Shank has taught art for 16 years and been a member of SCAEA for 14 years. Expanding a successful partnership with the Public Works Art Center that includes a student art exhibition, she organized the Educator as an Artist Exhibition to showcase the talent of regional art educators and to promote SCAEA membership. Ms. Shank fosters leadership among her colleagues and provides service opportunities. Her enthusiasm for the arts inspires students, staff, and the arts education community. 

“Youth Art Month is an amazing time of year when we are able to flood our state with student artwork,” said Ms. Shank. “Between the Youth Art Month celebration at Public Works Art Center and the DD2 Dream Fest, we had over 600 student artworks on display in downtown Summerville alone. Following that up with an exhibition that honored our talented regional educators was truly amazing.”


SCAEA is a chapter of the National Art Education Association (NAEA), which advances visual arts education to fulfill human potential and promote global understanding. NAEA is dedicated to providing educators with connectivity, resources, and opportunities to enrich classrooms, enhance careers, and inspire creativity.