Recent graduate Cindy Moore stepped right out of the student’s desk and sat down behind the teacher’s desk; After graduating in December from TWU, Moore started teaching at Jacquet Middle School as an art teacher.
Moore explained that she received the National Art Education Association Preservice Higher Achievement Award. This award is only given to one student in the United States a year, Moore said, and she is the first college student in Texas to receive this honor.
“It’s a big deal, and I am really excited for TWU. I’m just really proud of the education program,” Moore said. “I feel like TWU has the best education professors.”
Before Moore worked with at-risk youth, she was a dropout recovery agent for Lewisville Independent School District, meaning she sought to help students who were struggling and motivated them to work hard and graduate.
Moore found her passion in teaching art, she said, when she noticed how much pressure the core classes were putting on students. She knew they needed an outlet. A study at Drexel University reported levels of cortisol, often called the “stress hormone,” decrease after 45 minutes of making art.
“The arts is the way to go. They need a release—it has a really transformative power of releasing that for them,” Moore said.
Moore shared her most important advice for current or future students in the education program: “Get as much hands-on experience as possible, because theory is one thing, but being in the classroom is another.”
Students following the education program may fear how their first day teaching in the classroom will go. Moore called her first day teaching “bittersweet because you realize the moment the students are there you are no longer a student, that you are the teacher. It’s this crazy role reversal, and it’s exciting—but it’s scary.” Moore credited the TWU education program for helping her prepare for the classroom. She said she feels her professors would be proud of how she handled her first day.
Even though Moore didn’t start at the beginning of the school year, she explained she had a game plan set for her first day. Her classroom management plan is what helped her handle the classroom as soon as she walked in, she said. Her confidence kept her going. She stated that she “feels really lucky” for how her experience has gone so far. Moore expressed extreme gratitude for the TWU education program, and said she feels they are a big part of why she won the NAEA Award.
“This award isn’t just for me. It’s for my art ed family—my art ed team at TWU—because I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all that I wanted to accomplish if it wasn’t for their dedication and their support,” she said. “I really want to highlight that a really big part of me winning the award is the work I did at TWU with my organization, the Teaching Artist Network.”
The Teaching Artist Network is a TWU student organization. According to the TWU website, undergraduate and graduate students interested in teaching art are welcome to join. Readers can find more information about this organization at twu.edu/visual-arts/student-organizations.