Buncombe County School’s Kelly Holland won a state-wide award from the North Carolina Arts Education Association (NCAEA) as 2022-23’s Special Needs Art Educator of the Year. The award will be given out at the NCAEA’s Professional Development Conference later this semester. Ms. Holland has been working with Buncombe County School’s (BCS) Progressive Education Program (PEP) for almost four years and in her time has made a big impact on her students.
“I love working with the PEP students so much,” said Ms. Holland, who had previously taught art in a general education classroom setting. “It’s been a homecoming for me here. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, so it’s very affirming for me to receive such an award.”
Her role with PEP, she says, is as integral to the program as much as it is in any school. “It’s important for our students to have as many new experiences as possible while they’re in school, so they’re better prepared for life outside of it. I want to give them experiences, and a space to create on their own so they can find their voice. With this population, it’s really important to give them that ability to speak, and art can do that.”
She is also excited about the award giving her opportunities to connect with art teachers across the state and help her grow as a teacher, as well as share her experience with them. “I want to teach other teachers how to work with students with disabilities. It can be intimidating to have a student with special needs in a class where they may be the only one, and I’m hoping I can do some professional development or outreach to help other art teachers with the tools to help those students.”
“I’m excited to grow in this position,” said Ms. Holland added. “I love teaching here at PEP.”