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USF alumna Outstanding Indiana Art Educator of the Year


Oct. 26, 2011 FORT WAYNE, Ind.—MaryHilger, an art teacher at Indian Springs Middle School in Columbia City and aUniversity of Saint Francis alumna, has been named Outstanding Indiana ArtEducator of the Year by the Art Education Association of Indiana (AEAI).

Hilger was nominated by peers foroutstanding artistic achievement and service in education. She will receive heraward on Nov. 5 in Indianapolis during the AEAI annual convention.

Hilger has demonstrated hercommitment to teaching and raising awareness of the arts. A Scholastic ArtAward Competition advisory board member, she received a Lilly TeacherCreativity Grant to study Michelangelo in Italy, creating drawings andpublishing illustrated books. An arts advocate and summer art camp teacher for25 years, she facilitated a Japan student exchange and has discoveredopportunities for her students to exhibit their work.

“God is using me as an instrument tospread His love through the gift of art,” Hilger said. She has worked withmultiple churches and religious groups, creating impromptu chalk drawings forcharity. She presented her portrait of Mother Therese to the Superior Generalof the Missionaries of Charity, and it now hangs in Mother Therese’s MotherHouse in Calcutta, India. She also gifted Pope John Paul II and Pope BenedictXVI with portraits. An auction of her artwork has raised funds for theeducation of children in Abakaliki, Nigeria.

“Mary is a very giving art educatorand spends much of her time helping others to achieve their best, reaching outto share her artistic gifts with the larger community and the world,” saidTerri Nagel, a Fort Wayne Community Schools art teacher who nominated Hilgerfor the award.

Indian Springs Middle Schoolprincipal Jan Boylen also praised Hilger. “Mary shares her knowledge andpassion with each of our students. She strives to gain recognition for herstudents, even at national levels, for their artistic talents,” she said.Hilger completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education at SaintFrancis College, now University of Saint Francis.