Kendall Professor Wins Prestigious Art Education Award
Dr. Cindy Todd has devoted her career to helping art education students shine. And now, one of them has turned the spotlight back on her.
At the end of September, Kendall art education student Sherri Heffron nominated her instructor, Dr. Todd, for the National Art Education Student Chapter Sponsor Award of Excellence. The award is given annually to recognize outstanding achievement, contributions, and service to the field of art education by the sponsor of a student chapter.
In her nomination letter, Heffron says Dr. Todd encourages all of her students to be involved in the organization at the local level within the college and at the state level in annual conferences. “There, our students can connect with other art education students from around the state, become presenters, make connections with professional art educators, and volunteer time at the conference,” she says. “Dr. Todd makes a point to see each of our presentations and introduces us to as many professional art educators as possible. Without a doubt, she is the foundation of our program, and her unfailing dedication to students is priceless.”
Dr. Todd’s colleagues in the department were eager to support the nomination.
Associate Professor Donna St. John offered the following praises. “I can think of no one who is more deserving of this recognition than Cindy Todd,” she says. She describes the Kendall student chapter as an active group that promotes inclusion and networking, takes part in philanthropic causes, and plays an active role in state and local conferences. “Cindy encourages our students to not only attend the conferences, but also to speak and be active with the organization,” she says. “Kendall is fortunate to have a professor of her caliber who continues to inspire both students and colleagues to become better at what they do.”
The nomination was also supported by Kristen Morrison, Student Teacher Placement Officer. She explains, “Our student chapter is arguably one of the most active in the country; this all stems from Cindy’s enthusiasm, energy, and positive outlook which motivates our students. Cindy may ask a colleague, acquaintance, or perfect stranger to forward an opportunity for the students. She encourages everyone to develop a new idea for teaching or apply for an existing position. The pebble in the pond is the perfect metaphor for the positive influence she has on our Art Education students, and in turn, the thousands of students they will meet in their careers.”
All nominees are evaluated for their ability to promote community service activities, cross-curricular activities, member participation in professional development, fundraising for the chapter, and student presentations at conferences. Applications were reviewed by a committee of art education peers, which selected Dr. Todd to win the prestigious award. She was notified of the selection in January and will travel to Ft. Worth, Texas, in March to receive the award during the NAEA national convention, where she, St. John, and Morrison will be presenting on different topics, and three students including Heffron will be attending as well.
Dr. Cindy Todd
Dr. Todd says the experience has been particularly humbling because Heffron sought out the opportunity for the award on her own. “Beyond thinking that I was a good enough advisor, she went to a lot of trouble to tell me that in a significant way, and that makes it really special to me,” she says. “It’s also awfully nice to be recognized by your peers.”
In the 30-year history of the award, this is the first time an educator in Michigan has won. Kendall President Dr. David Rosen was delighted to see Dr. Todd recognized, stating, “Cindy is a visionary art educator who understands that art teachers need to be artists themselves in order to understand the journey and destination of their students.” He adds, “I believe that Kendall has one of the most impactful art education programs in the country, and I want our program to become an acknowledged world leader in art education. This award is an excellent first step in affirming that what we offer is both different and better.”