By: Claire Quigle
Buffy Quintero (2011, MAT) was recently honored as the Elementary Art Educator of the Year by the Arts Educators of Iowa (AEI). This award is given annually to selected members of the Iowa arts education community who have shown stellar dedication to the craft of teaching art to children. Quintero works as an art teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Iowa City.
Wendy Miller, associate professor of art education at the University of Northern Iowa and one of her nominators, shares: “Buffy is a passionate teacher, filled with energy, ideas, and her laughter can light up a child’s face on any given day. I cannot think of a more deserving individual for this award.”
This past summer, Buffy developed an online art curriculum for the Iowa City Community School District, and she continues to lead those efforts. She believes it is necessary to have a robust online curriculum in order to be able to protect the health and safety of students and staff.
“I approached the curriculum work through the lens of systemic racism, and how art education can help to reverse it,” Quintero says.
She created a culturally responsive curriculum and highlighted many diverse and contemporary artists as examples and inspiration. The social/emotional needs of students also took precedent in the curriculum.
“I see the work of art educators as vitally important during these turbulent times,” Quintero says. “ Art is critically important for student development. Inspiring students, building self-esteem, developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and helping students to know the joy of creating.”
Quintero received a Master of Arts degree in Art Education from the University of Iowa College of Education and has taught elementary, secondary, and post-secondary art. While in school, Quintero spent a year studying abroad at Albert Lüdwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany. She also worked for eight years as outreach coordinator for International Programs at the University of Iowa. While there, she developed internationally-focused professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers, directed a volunteer program of cultural ambassadors, coordinated on-campus experiential learning opportunities for students, and collaborated with schools on special projects in the classroom.
As an art educator and performing puppeteer, Quintero has been taught and mentored by dozens of peers and educators, including Monica Leo, of Eulenspiegel Puppets, and Sandra Quintero, her mother, also an art educator.
Established as a professional organization in 1950, Arts Educators of Iowa soon began recognizing those of its members who stood out as exemplars in the field.