ABILENE – For the first time in its history, the Abilene ISD was honored by the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) as one of 40 winners statewide of the District of Distinction Award. 

The districts received the honor for providing a well-rounded education that advocates and integrates visual arts curriculum to inspire creativity and build social emotional learning that connects learners to their community and beyond.

Throughout the 2020-21 school year, AISD Fine Arts Coordinator Brady Sloane-Duncan tracked the progress of visual art teachers and students throughout the district, compared it to the entry rubric and compiled evidence to submit to TAEA for review.

“When I first saw the rubric that was being used, I knew this was something our educators could achieve because many of these things were already being accomplished in the AISD,” she said. “We are so delighted to be name d a dod. This wouldn’t have happened without our teachers and students. They faced many obstacles and still do today, and we are very proud of them for their resilience.”

Despite COVID restrictions, Sloane-Duncan said, AISD art teachers competed in several exhibitions, competitions and events, and engagement grew at each teaching level.

Sloane-Duncan was presented with the district’s award at a ceremony on Nov. 5 in Austin.

TAEA is the leading advocate for the visual arts in the state. The organization has previously honored outstanding TAEA members for work in their classrooms and districts. This is the third year that TAEA is honoring districts that meet rigorous criteria as evidenced from data.

For the 2021 award, more than 1,100 districts were eligible to apply. Each district submitted documentation they met from the 14-point rubric over the 2020-21 school year. Only 40 districts met the high standard and received the outstanding honor indicating they are in the top four (4) percent in art education of districts in the state.

“The Abilene ISD has set a high standard for visual arts advocacy, integrated visual arts curriculum, encouraged creativity, community participation and student growth,” said Stacia Gower, Chair of the Administration and Supervision Division of TAEA. “The past school year, educators faced a great many challenges associated with constantly changing guidelines and instruction procedures as well as participation in contest and visual art events. It is a true testament to our visual art educators’ skill, dedication, and flexibility that the quality of their programs continued strong and comprehensive.”