March 26, 2018: St. Thomas More High School is proud to announce that two of our teachers have won awards recognizing their contributions to the education field. Visual arts teacher Jodi Brzezinski received the Wisconsin Art Educator of the Year Award, and social science teacher Jacob Lukasiewicz earned the Early Career Educator Award.
Presented by the National Art Education Association (NAEA), the Art Educator of the Year Award celebrates exemplary art educators who have made significant contributions to the field of art education both inside and outside the classroom. Brzezinski, who was nominated by her peers, received her award at the NAEA National Convention in Seattle, WA, on Friday, March 23.
Sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (WACTE), the Early Career Educator Award recognizes teachers in the first three years of their professional career who have made a positive impact on their school or community, designed innovation learning experiences, and advocated for their students. Nominated by the Marquette University College of Education, Lukasiewicz will receive his award at the WACTE awards luncheon in Madison, WI, on Sunday, April 8.
“At St. Thomas More, we take great pride in the many accomplishments of our teachers,” principal Nicholas Kelly said. “Jodi and Jake both strive to empower our students to develop academically and encourage them to rise to the challenges brought before them. We are incredibly grateful to have them as members of the St. Thomas More family.”
Currently in her 18th year teaching, Brzezinski, who also received the 2017 Wisconsin Art Educator of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Art Education Association, serves as president of the Milwaukee Area Teachers of Art and teaches classes at the Greendale Parks and Recreation Department. She is also a past recipient of the Kohl Teacher Fellowship, a past board member of the Wisconsin Art Education Association, and holds a Master’s degree in Visual Studies from Cardinal Stritch University.
“I am deeply touched that my peers on my research team honor and value me enough to nominate me for this award,” Brzezinski said, “but really I would not be here today without them, or my students, or the fantastic colleagues I get to work with at St. Thomas More.”
A graduate of Marquette University, Lukasiewicz is currently in his second-year teaching after completing his student-teaching at St. Thomas More in 2015. He teaches World History, US History, Crime & Justice, Modern American Issues, and AP Microeconomics and serves as head coach for the JV2 boys’ basketball team.
“This award represents the massive amount of support I’ve had around me in my time at St. Thomas More,” Lukasiewicz said. “As a teacher, I really couldn’t ask for better mentors than department chair Kevin Gleeson and principal Nic Kelly, and the entire social science department is one big support system for each other.”
Both Brzezinski and Lukasiewicz encourage their students to take an active role in their education. “The more students can be the drivers in their own learning,” Brzezinski explained, “the more comfortable they will be to take risks, make mistakes, experiment, and truly evaluate their work. These skills go way beyond the art room. I want my students to be prepared for the real world, and art is a great vehicle for that.”
“I prefer for students to discover things for themselves and stay active,” Lukasiewicz added. “If class is interesting and relatable, it will be much more meaningful and engaging for students.”