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Parkersburg High School teacher named West Virginia Art Educator of the Year

Parkersburg High School art teacher Emma Romanowski, right, looks over the work of junior Jadyn Hively during a class Wednesday. Romanowski was recently named the West Virginia Art Education Association’s 2021 High School Art Educator of the Year. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — Being named the West Virginia Art Education Association’s 2021 High School Art Educator of the Year surprised Parkersburg High School’s Emma Romanowski, but not her students.

“She deserves it,” said PHS junior Taryn Newsom. “Miss Romanowski is super unique because she has this way of making everybody feel appreciated and at home. No artist gets overlooked.”

Romanowski, who just turned 30 and has been teaching at her alma mater for seven years, said she couldn’t believe it when she got the news.

“I feel like I’m pretty young into my career,” she said.

Besides teaching Art I, art appreciation, drawing and Art III, Romanowski gives students the opportunity to build their talent and explore artistic endeavors through other avenues.

Parkersburg High School art teacher Emma Romanowski, shown Wednesday in front of a mural outside her classroom, was recently named the West Virginia Art Education Association’s 2021 High School Art Educator of the Year. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“I just try to get as involved with the community as I can and get kids involved,” she said.

Romanowski started a Mural Club where students not only decorate areas of the school but go through a bidding process that involves sketches and quotes so “they know how to do it, professionally.” With the recent emphasis on murals and public art in the area, she posts a list of contests and opportunities for local artists in the classroom.

“Anywhere local that I can, that people say we’re wanting an artist to do this, I put it up on that board,” she said.

When Romanowski was selected to put a mural on the side of a local business last year, she opened it up to art students to assist her and fellow art teacher Miranda Wilson. Six students took her up on the offer, and she split the prize money with them.

Romanowski also serves as the adviser for the Junior Cabinet, who are responsible for organizing and decorating for the prom. While there is an artistic component to that, she said it also allows the students, and her, to explore other skills, like working with a budget.

Parkersburg High School art teacher Emma Romanowski, center, looks over the work of junior Jadyn Hively during a class Wednesday as juniors Bailey Corbin and Jaden Moellendick watch. Romanowski was recently named the West Virginia Art Education Association’s 2021 High School Art Educator of the Year. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“We couldn’t be more proud of Ms. Romanowski being named West Virginia Art Teacher of the Year,” said Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook. “She is very deserving of this recognition and is a role model for her students. Every day she encourages her students to grow and challenge themselves, and she imparts her love and excitement for the arts into everything she does.”

PHS junior Jadyn Hively said she appreciates the way Romanowski welcomes all different kinds of artwork and ideas and relates to the students.

“She’s a great artist herself, very inspiring,” Hively said.

Hively said students are participating in the Inktober art challenge, assembling a flipbook of work inspired by a different, Halloween-themed prompt each day this month.

The West Virginia Art Education Association sponsors conferences, programs and exhibits and works to promote the arts as essential elements of education programs. Romanowski will be recognized at the group’s fall conference, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at her alma mater, West Liberty University.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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