Since 2014, the Stanly County Arts Council has named the Art Educator of the Year, a mile known as the “Jim Kennedy” award in memory of longtime artistic advocate, teacher and coach, James D. Kennedy.
The award recognizes a teacher of fine arts in Stanly County Public School System who has made a significant positive impact on the arts in education and inspired students to practice, appreciate and respect the fine arts. Nominations are submitted by principals of elementary, middle, and high schools in Stanly County.
The winner of the Fine Arts Educator Award for 2022 is Randall (Randy) Fike, a visual arts teacher from West Stanly High School.
Fike received his award at an education committee meeting in April. Fike also received a $ 250 classroom scholarship to help him continue his successful art program at West.
He will also receive a public recognition for the honor at a Charlotte Symphony Orchestra concert at 3pm on October 23rd.
“Mr. Fike is an advocate of all the arts. She enjoys working with students at all levels, ”West Stanly Director Anne McLendon wrote in her nomination. “Mr. Fike uses his AP students as classroom leaders as he will teach and model a variety of art techniques. He exhibits student work throughout the school campus. He serves on the school leadership of the team, chairs the climate committee and serves as a Senior Advisory. His leadership in the arts is known throughout our school and county. ”
Fike, a 28-year-old resident of Stanly County, arrived here from Parkersburg, West Virginia.
After earning a master’s degree from Marshall University, Fike began teaching at Albemarle High School.
Certified in mathematics, social studies and the arts, he taught mathematics for 10 years before moving on to social studies in 2004. He spent 19 years at Albemarle High School and in 2010 was named Teacher of the Year at the school.
In 2013, she moved to North Stanly High School to teach her advanced history classes, and in 2017, she was named the school’s class teacher of the year.
After four years, he moved to West Stanly to take over the visual arts program.
Fike described his move as an attempt to achieve more creative opportunities in his career. While teaching at Albemarle, he always tried to use art as the basis of his technical math classes. His cartoon drawing was also an attempt to encourage creativity in social studies classes in Albemarle and North Stanly. He added that “the opportunity to teach art at West was a creative challenge, which, looking back, I could only dream of.”
The social aspect of art teaching is not lost on Fike.
“Art classes are given to all types of students, from popular to social outcasts. They all have the same thing in common. They have a voice that wants to be heard. I feel it is my job to give them that opportunity. ”
Fike believes that art finds a way to overcome diversity.
“I have several groups of students that I know would never have interacted … become friends, if it weren’t for art class.
“One of my favorite students, a very talented high school graduate, told me that she would have left school if art had not been with her. It was my proudest moment in 28 years of teaching. ”
Since arriving in the West, Fike has worked on presenting West’s student artists with several shows and exhibitions. West artwork is often displayed in the Locust Library in downtown Locust. West Stanly High also sponsored the annual art exhibitions at the Falling Rivers Gallery and the Stanly Arts Guild & Gallery, as well as the Arts Council Student Art Exhibition celebration. A permanent collection of student work (donated by student artists during their final year) is on display in the West Stanly High lobby, the first piece obtained after Fike’s first year in that position.
In addition, Fike has set up a “Gallery Hall” in West Stanly to constantly display current works.
An avid traveler, Fike accompanied several groups of students to Europe to learn and explore other cultures, first in 2000 and recently with a group from the West in 2019.
He also finds time to attend a game of Cubs or two over the summer. Fike loves to sketch and draw and enjoys clay and ceramics, founding a workshop at his home in Albemarle.
Fike joins previous award-winning art educators Lori Watson, a music teacher at Stanfield and Locust Elementary Schools; Michelle Osborne, art teacher at Central Elementary; Stacy Bottoms, art teacher at West Stanly High School; Jessica Kiser, band / music teacher at Albemarle High School; Frank Poolos, band director at North Stanly High School; Rebekah Crisco, art teacher at North Stanly High School; and Derek Smith, band director at West Stanly High.
For 2021, the Artist and Art Educator of the Year awards were combined and honored all art educators in the county for their commitment to inspiring young people to pursue art during the pandemic.
The Stanly County Arts Council was established in 1974. It continues to promote and support all art forms in the community. Its mission is to encourage and promote broad cultural and educational activities in the arts throughout Stanly County.
The Stanly County Arts Council is supported by private donations and the NC Arts Council, a department of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Arts Foundation.
For the latest information on art in Stanly County, visit www.stanlycountyartscouncil.org. Contact Renee VanHorn, CEO, at [email protected]