Mary Whyte American Watercolor Artist

Mary Whyte Art Educator Award

Established in 2007, the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award is designed to highlight a visual art teacher in the state of South Carolina who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft. The award is accompanied by a prize of $5,000 and is administered and presented annually by the South Carolina Art Education Association.  

"Several years ago I was talking with a local high school art teacher and learned that she had used part of her savings to buy supplies for her students. Hers was not an uncommon story, as art teachers in the South Carolina public schools are accustomed to making do with very little. What impresses me the most about our art educators today is how dedicated and motivated they are, and how willing they are to give so much of themselves. The Art Educator Award was created to highlight our teachers, and to thank them for inspiring the artists and innovators of the future.” Mary Whyte


The South Carolina Art Education Association is NOW accepting applications for the 2024 MARY WHYTE ART EDUCATOR AWARD.  
Application Dealine is August 16, 2024. 
The Mary Whyte Art Educator Award will be presented by Mary Whyte, at the SCAEA fall annual conference in Greenville, SC.  

Choose the "Mary Whyte Art Educator Award" in the link above.  

2023, Amber Harrar, South Florence High School, Florence, SC

Mrs. Harrar holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education from Francis Marion University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Coastal Carolina University. She has received numerous awards for her dedication to the profession of art education, including two Teacher of the Year Awards. Mrs. Harrar is currently teaching at South Florence High School and Florence One Center for the Arts. In addition to her instruction to her high school students she dedicates her time and energy to organize a variety of arts opportunities within her community. Mrs. Harrar is a leader in the field of art education, sharing her experience and expertise professionally at both the state and national level.  Dr. Mary Lou Hightower of the University of South Carolina Upstate describes Mrs. Harrar as having a, “passion and energy for art education.” Dr. Richard O’Malley, the Superintendent of Florence One Schools, describes Mrs. Harrar as, “a passionate art teacher and an extraordinary arts leader who continues to make a significant impact on the arts community in our district and across the region.”  The South Carolina Art Education Association is honored to recognize Mrs. Amber Harrar for her achievement as the 2023 recipient of the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award.

"Mary Whyte's support of art education resonates deeply within the creative community and serves as a guiding light for those who strive to make a difference through art education. I am incredibly honored and grateful for this recognition, as it will continue to inspire and drive my commitment to fostering creativity and artistic growth in education. I am also deeply appreciative of the support of my family, friends, fellow educators, and students."  Amber Harrar

2022, Catherine Ellis, Ashley Ridge High School, Summerville, SC

Mrs. Catherine Ellis began teaching art in 2011 at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville, SC where she serves as the head of the Fine Arts Department, the sponsor of the National Art Honors Society and teaches AP Art. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Ellis works as a district muralist and a professional fine artist.  She is a mentor teacher within Dorchester School District 2, where she also provides district level professional development opportunities. She is a curriculum writer for Dorchester School District 2 and serves on the textbook committee. She has experience writing and managing Distinguished Arts Program Grants and has established countless artist residencies and professional development opportunities within her school.  Mrs. Ellis was the 2019 recipient of the SCAEA Art Educator of the Year Award. The South Carolina Art Education Association is honored to recognize Mrs. Catherine Ellis for her achievement as the 2022 recipient of the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award.

"I could not be more honored to receive the Mary Whyte Educator Award. As a visual art teacher, I love my craft and the students I get to teach and inspire. In return, their uniqueness and creativity inspire me. High schoolers are very entertaining. Mary Whyte has created an amazing opportunity with the SCAEA to celebrate the hard work and commitment that goes into teaching art, in and outside of the classroom. This award has been extremely validating for someone who was inspired by their own high school art teacher to choose this path. I am elated to be recognized for this outstanding award and am grateful for the support from friends, family, and fellow art advocates."  Catherine Ellis 

2021, Elise Hurley, Rollings Middle School of the Arts, Summerville, SC

Elise Hurley is a visual arts teacher at Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Dorchester District Two.  She has worked as an arts educator for over 10 years in both elementary and middle school settings. Her teaching experience includes visual art, arts infusion, STEAM, and media arts. She received a B.A. in English and Studio Art from Converse College in SC and an M.A.T. in Visual Art from the University of the Arts in PA.

“I am honored to receive this award from such an amazing artist and arts advocate, Mary Whyte. I am very grateful to Ms. Whyte, SCAEA, and my support community for making this possible. Receiving this award has led me to reflect gratefully on the many coworkers, friends, and family who have helped me become the educator I am today. In my current position teaching gifted middle school students, I play a pivotal role in impacting our future.  I strive for students to not just make art but to be artists—to embrace the mindset of inquiry and the creative process as they develop and value their own visual voice. I am particularly passionate about advocating for the needs of our artistically gifted students by helping them recognize, value, and develop their unique abilities. This grant will enable me to purchase specialized resources for advanced curriculum.  The additional funds for the teacher will enable me to pursue professional development to feed my own artistic soul as well as enable me to better meet the needs of my gifted students. My students and I are very blessed to receive this generous award. I look forward to seeing the impact it will make now and in the future.”  Elise Hurley

2020, Victoria Wade, McBee High School, McBee, SC

"What an honor this is to receive! This is my fourth year at the high school I currently serve and in past years I have fundraised for supplies to give my students exposure and an experience in art that can transcend outside my classroom. I am so excited that Mary Whyte has honored me with this award and funds to serve my students on an even greater level. Many of my students enter my art class without any prior experience with art or the many amazing mediums that are out there to work with. This will impact them tremendously as now I can expose them to so much more! This has been such a challenging different type of school year—this really brightens our little school in a difficult time. I am truly honored that I have been chosen to receive this recognition and award. Thank you so much!"   -- Victoria Wade


The South Carolina Art Education Association and artist Mary Whyte are proud to announce that Ms. Kathy Moore of T.L. Hanna High School is the recipient of the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award for 2019.
Ms. Moore went to college at age 40 to pursue her dream of being an arts educator, joining the T.L. Hanna staff in 2004. Her drive and ambition has lead her and the T.L. Hanna High School visual arts program from two art educators, minimal course offerings, and a small percentage of the student population, to a phenomenal program.  The school now boasts four instructors, increased class offerings by 400%, teaching over 600 students per year, and have become self-sustaining through their fund-raising efforts.  Ms. Moore’s students have been successful winning awards at the local, state and national level.

Ms. Moore was recognized at the South Carolina Art Education Association’s Fall Conference, November 2019 during an awards luncheon.


Eugenia (Gina) Taylor is a visual arts teacher at Blythewood High School in Richland School District Two.  She Currently teaches Photography, Media Arts, Art of Film, Talented & Gifted, Advanced Placement Art and is a National Board Certified Teacher.  

Gina received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art with a concentration in Graphic Design from the University of South Carolina in 1999.  Working as a Graphic Artist at WIS Television, she returned to USC to complete a Maters in Art Education in 2004.  She is currently in her 14th year at Blythewood High School.  

"I want to make sure that the student who wants an art career has an advantage from a great public school program.  I want the students who do not see themselves as professional artists to realize that they can learn and achieve in a subject that will give them problem-solving skills for their future.  My accomplishments start with the young people that I get to teach by being knowledgeable enough to help them realize their own goals."

Taylor believes that all students should have a quality arts education and strives to provide this for her students through grant writing, teaching summer programs, participation in SCAEA, teaching through various opportunities and continuing her own professional development. 


2017 - Mary Catherine Peeples, Wando High School, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Mary Catherine Peeples, 2017 winner of the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award, is a Visual Art Teacher at Wando High School.  She teaches Art III, Pre-Advanced Placement Studio Art, Advanced Placement Studio Art, and Photography I.

After graduating from Wando High School in 1999, she went to Winthrop University with plans to pursue a degree in Graphic Design. Five years later, she graduated with a degree in Art Education and a minor in Art History. Mary Catherine has been teaching art at Wando High School for the past ten years.

“I am constantly striving to improve my teaching practices as well as artistic practices by attending trainings, graduate courses, and pursuing a masters degree.  In the last 14 years, I have become National Board Certified, earned my Masters in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and taken over 30 hours of graduate courses above my master’s degree.  I am proud to say that my students have won numerous awards and scholarships under my teaching, and every student I have taught in the last 12 years in Advanced Placement Studio Art has passed the exam.”  
Peeples wholly believes in the value of arts education for all students.  She has worked through the years to help make this a reality with grant managing and leading development in many areas including working with elementary and middle school core teachers to incorporate visual arts into their classroom teaching.  

2015 - Shannon Hopkins Carroll, North Charleston High School

Mary Whyte presents the 2015 Art Educator Award to Shannon Hopkins Carroll on November 14th at the South Carolina Art Educators Association conference in Beufort.  Ms. Carroll received her degree from the College of Charleston, and teaches art at North Charleston High School, where she involves her students in community activities through Art Club, student competitions, and student exhibitions.  The Mary Whyte Art Educator Award is given annually to a South Carolina high school art teacher who demonstrates excellence in teaching through creativity, inspiration, dedication and skill.

2014 - Donna Shank Major, Fine Arts Center, Greenville, SC

2014 Donna Shank Major, Fine Arts Center, Greenville, SC

Gibbes Museum of Art Announces 2014 Mary Whyte Art Educator Award
Donna Shank Major is the instructor for 2D and 3D Design courses, teaches in the ARMES program at the Fine Arts Center, and serves as the Coordinator for Explore the Arts summer program. The ARMES program is a tuition-free arts program designed to meet the needs of students in grades 4 through 8 who have demonstrated outstanding talents and a deep interest in theatre, visual arts, strings or dance. Ms. Major grew up in Greenville and was an art student at Fine Arts Center for three years. She graduated from Converse College and continued studies at Converse College earning a Master’s Degree in Education. She has been teaching art for 18 years in Greenville and Spartanburg County, and works in a variety of media and techniques including clay, printmaking, painting, and bookmaking. She has received many grants, including a Fulbright Memorial Fund grant to study in Japan, and fellowships to study at Arrowmont School of Crafts and Penland. Her work has been exhibited in shows at the Art Bomb, Open Studios with the Metropolitan Arts Council, the Belton Juried Professional Show, the Anderson Art Show and the Union Juried Professional Show.

“I am so pleased to announce Donna Shank Major as this year's recipient of the Art Educator Award.  Ms. Major is an instructor at the Fine Arts Center of Greenville, and together with the other two state finalists, Josh Drews and Mary Catherine Peeples, represents the finest this state has to offer in art education. South Carolina has most definitely set the bar high in fine art instruction,” says Mary Whyte.

2013- Ashley Webb, Wando High School

Ashley Webb submitted a lesson plan to encourage students to reflect on their family unit and to create compositions that were organizationally sound as well as visually symbolic of their family unit. This was a very personal lesson for the students and in some cases, the students really dealt with deep rooted issues from childhood to adolescence. Upon completion of the lesson, students participated in a formal class critique. “This critique was one of the most powerful critiques I have experienced in her ten years of teaching. There were moments of joy and laughter and moments of sadness and empathy,” says Ms. Webb.

Ashley Webb earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Clemson University, BFA (cum laude) in 2001, and her M.Ed in Secondary Administration (suma cum laude), from The Citadel in 2008. She is a Member of the Alumni Association, and holds an Advanced Placement Studio Arts Certification. In 2009 she earned a National Board Certification in Secondary Art and has a Master’s + 30.

2012 – Robin Boston, Stratford High School

Robin Boston, a 9th-12th grade art teacher from Stratford High School in Berkeley County received the 2012 Art Educator Award and the $2,500 cash prize that accompanies the award. Ms. Boston submitted a lesson plan Student Inventions: Art and Engineering that was a hands-on, interdisciplinary, reality-based collaboration between visual arts and engineering students based on the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) educational initiative. The project was a cross-curricular unit involving engineering, computer technology, industrial design, commercial art, innovative thinking, competition, teamwork, and creativity.
Robin Boston earned her Bachelors of Art from Charleston Southern University and her Masters Degree from the University of South Carolina. She has been teaching at Stratford High School since 1997 and has been the Director of Berkeley County Summer Gifted and Talented High School Program since 1991.

2011 – Annie Purvis-Norman, Lincoln High School

On May, 2011, I was honored to receive the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award which recognizes a high school visual art teacher in the Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester school districts who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft. The recognition and support that have resulted from the Rural Murals Projects have inspired me to continue my work in public art to service both our community and educational institutions. I started the project because I wanted my students to feel a sense of belonging to a larger art community, to examine the artist's role in society, and to consider a career in art to be a valid and significant contribution to the preservation of our culture. As their teacher, I feel it is my obligation to give students experiences that allow them to develop skills and conceptual understandings so they can compete with students who have access to more elaborate art programs. I also want them to realize that money, or rather the lack thereof, is not a valid excuse not to create. I always tell my students, "Artists are born to create and so we do so with whatever we have on hand, or we find a way to get it. Look back in history… artists reflect society, tell stories, and preserve culture. You must do your part."  (Annie Purvis)

2010 – Anne Cimballa, Charleston County School for the Arts

Anne Cimballa, an art teacher for grades 7, 9, and 10 at the Charleston County School of the Arts received the 2010 Mary Whyte Art Educator Award and the $1,000 cash prize that accompanies the award. Awarded annually by the Gibbes, the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award is designed to recognize a high school visual art teacher in the tri-county area who has demonstrated superior commitment to his or her students and craft. Ms. Cimballa submitted the lesson plan Palette Knife Painting Inspired by the Works of Brian Rutenberg. Students visited the Gibbes exhibition Brian Rutenberg: Tidesong and created original landscape paintings using their own photos of the Lowcountry while painting with palette knives in the style of Rutenberg.

2009 – Dayton Colie, R.B. Stall High School

Dayton Colie, who teaches art at R.B. Stall High, was the winner of this year’s award and $1,000 cash prize. This is the second year that this award has been given, and CCSD art teachers have been selected each time. The award is open to teachers in the Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester school districts, and participants must submit lesson plans and examples of work to be considered. Amy Coleman, a teacher at Memminger Elementary, was also named as one of the top three finalists.

2008 – Dona Dowling, St. Johns High School