Teachers receive national award


Photo by and used with the permission of Kristen LaJeunesse

Kristen LaJeunesse and Matthew Winkleman with their Design Interest Group awards. The two were co-nominated for a national award.

Mackenzie Rough, Staff Writer

Two LZHS teachers received a national art and design award on March 5 in New York City.

Fine Arts teachers Matt Winkleman and Kristen LaJeunesse were co-nominated to receive the Design Interest Group award at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) convention, which takes place each year in a major city. The Design Interest Group is made up of members of visual art and design programs from different schools and studios from across the country.
The NAEA usually presents the Design Interest Group award to one member of the NAEA every year in order to celebrate the influence they have had on their design department. This year, Winkleman and LaJeunnesse were selected by their peers to receive the award.

“Mr. Winkleman and I are part of the Design Interest Group. I speculate we were nominated because we’ve expanded the art and design curriculum within the high school,” LaJeunesse said. “We went to a summer studio a few years ago and they taught us all about how we could integrate design thinking into our courses. We have transformed our traditional visual art department.”

According to Winkleman, the world is beginning to require more out of designers with each decade as technology progresses, and school programs are expected to keep up.

“The world as a whole has now come to expect a higher level of design in everything we consume,” Winkleman said. “Take mobile phones for example, everything is customizable– the home screen, the phone case, the apps, everything– which comes down to design. Design is a massively growing area. I think the reason [the NAEA] recognized us is because of the [increasing] number of young people pursuing design based careers, as a result of art and design programs like the ones we offer at this school.”

LaJeunesse and Winkleman have attended the NAEA convention for the last several years. According to LaJeunesse, the convention has been over Zoom the last two years and so she is excited to be the recipient of the award, especially now that the convention is in person again.

“As far as I’m aware, no one else from this school has been nominated for this award, aside from Kristen [LaJeunesse], of course,” Winkleman said. “So I’m humbled and honored just to be nominated to be a recipient of the award.”