There are no walls in Laura Hackett’s classroom.
An art teacher at Enver Creek Secondary, Hackett believes creative art is everywhere, and the B.C. Art Teachers’ Association (BCATA), which named her this year’s recipient of the Graduation Award for Excellence in Art Education, agrees.
“Your contributions toward fostering a creative, inclusive dynamic in the classroom in addition to offering students opportunities to become involved in the culture of their community through collaborative projects with the Surrey Museum and Surrey Art Gallery are commendable,” wrote BCATA co-presidents Regan Rasmussen and Eileen Ryan in a letter to Hackett about her award.
Hackett has been in the district for 12 years; first at Semiahmoo Secondary and for the last 11 years at Enver Creek, where she teaches visual arts, photography design, media and yearbook.
But Hackett’s lessons often take place well beyond the physical classroom. A photography project in collaboration with the Surrey Art Gallery to chronicle the gentrification of Whalley exposed students to the challenges and beauty of a neighbourhood in transition, which they documented in photographs that later became part of a postcard exhibit at the gallery.
“When I began teaching, I wanted to be an active participant in art education outside the classroom,” says Hackett.
As an advocate of the arts and creative expression, Hackett sees their value in almost any endeavour. Although a great many of her students pursue art professionally upon graduation, those who don’t still benefit from the skills they acquire in her class to see things differently.
“Art is facilitated in the creative process,” Hackett explains. “When you cultivate the imagination, it leads to original ideas and that’s what I seek to do with my students. The process of creativity is as important as the final product.”
She adds, “Everybody has the potential to be creative and that can manifest itself in every discipline, whether you’re a scientist, a writer, a business marketer or an engineer. We have to think beyond the notion that we’re just decorating the world. We have to think about how ideas change the world and make it a safer and more exciting place to be.”
In her letter from the BCATA, Hackett was also recognized for the leadership she demonstrated in the association and the contributions she made on the planning committees for two BCATA conferences.