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TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALIST PROFILE: Rosewood Teacher Helping All Students Find Success through Wonders of Art

Caroline CarsonCaroline Carson knew at an early age that her family drawings would take her places.

Carson, an art teacher at Rosewood Elementary School, is one of five school-level Teachers of the Year who are in the running for the district-level distinction. The teacher chosen as the 2022-2023 Richland One Teacher of the Year will qualify for consideration for the state title.

This day might never have come if Carson continued to listen to the criticism of her artwork by her sister, Jenny, at age three, which caused her to put down her brush for a while. It was her mother who convinced her to pick it back up.

“[My mother] pulled out a book on Pablo Picasso and showed me his work. Then, she showed me some of Jenny’s old artwork,” said Carson. “Her artwork looked just like mine. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a lesson on growth mindset taught by a loving mother who seamlessly merged creativity and criticism through thoughtful reflection.”

Influenced largely by her mother and educators who encouraged her to better, Carson realized she could use art as a catalyst for impact on the lives of children whose start was similar to hers.

“Those early experiences have been influential in some of my greatest contributions and accomplishments in education,” she said.

Since joining the Rosewood team 26 years ago and the related arts team 11 years ago, the school has become arts-based, steeped in providing the tools necessary for critical assessment of what students read, see and hear as it relates to the arts and other subjects.

Carson has served as the related arts team leader and guided Rosewood through the development and attainment of the Distinguished Arts Program Grant. Additionally, she led the school’s strategic five-year arts plan and steered it through the process of becoming a certified Arts in Basic Curriculum school.

“Through her leadership and the ongoing professional development she provides at our school, she has increased our staff in infusing and incorporating engaging arts experiences across grade levels and subject areas,” said Rosewood Principal Elizabeth Williams.

Sixth-grader Ellie Griggs is a former student of Carson, who said from paper mâché masks, knee pots, pop art posters, art journals and worry dolls, every assignment was incredibly creative and fulfilling.

“Mrs. Carson pushes all her students to do their best and also recognizes individual talents,” said Ellie. “Not all my classmates excelled in grades in class, but art was a place where all students could find success.”

From the perspective of a parent of one of Carson’s students and as a coworker, Rosewood fifth-grade teacher Aurelia Hamilton said her son thrived in the class and she was able to integrate the art lessons taught by Carson in her own classroom.

“[My son] was excited to not only bring home his work, but share that work with our family, talking through the steps he took when creating each piece,” said Hamilton. “Under her guidance, I have incorporated sketchnoting, printmaking, flipbooks and stop motion animation in my general education classroom.”

Hamilton said that student engagement and excitement during these experiences is unparalleled, and there has been documented student growth that is a direct result of the integration of art.

“When curriculum is developed around authentic design challenges, it opens the experiences to both planned and unexpected outcomes. There is palpable change in engagement,” said Carson. “They have a purpose that goes beyond school and into life.”

The new Richland One Teacher of the Year will be announced May 27 during the district’s Celebration 2022 employee recognition event.