During the week of May 7, thousands of educators across the state will receive thank-you notes in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week. And this year, the work of a Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) student will grace many of those cards.
At a surprise ceremony March 22, Kaycie Colton, a seventh-grader at Princess Anne Middle School, won the middle school category in the Virginia Lottery’s Thank a Teacher Art Contest.
Her untitled piece, drawn with an array of colorful markers, was inspired by how educators influence everyone. “Teachers have taught people so many things,” she explained. “It leads those people to get their jobs and do their work. So teachers hold up society.”
Kaycie’s work will join two other winners from a Virginia elementary school and high school, respectively.
Virginia Lottery representative Jennifer Mullen reported that there were 700 submissions to the contest this year, and that Kaycie’s drawing stood out. “The color really popped. And what the judges really loved about this one is that it shows so many people working together to help lift up others into these careers. It really just captured the essence of what teachers do every day.”
Kaycie is new to VBCPS, but her artistic prowess was quickly noticed by her art teacher, Ian Jewell. “I’d seen her a few times in the hallway, and she seemed really quiet and shy,” he said. “But the day she came in to talk about her art it was like…nonstop. When you get her talking about her art, she lights up and has tons of stuff to say about her techniques. Art is totally her thing. ”
Jaclyn Colton, Kaycie’s mother, recalled that her daughter had been drawing since she could pick up a crayon. “She puts all her energy into expressing herself with her art. She says what she wants with her pens, markers and crayons.”
The recognition was more than welcome for the family and for Kaycie, who had been hospitalized twice in the past year and endured surgery in February to save her eyes. “We were worried that she was going to lose her ability to do art,” said Mrs. Colton. “It’s just really nice that she’s had some good things happen.”
Along with her award, Kaycie received a $150 gift card and the school was given $1,000 for the art department.
Thank a Teacher, a statewide campaign in its fourth year, is organized by the Virginia Lottery in partnership with the Virginia PTA and the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Contest winners are selected by a panel of representatives from Virginia’s arts community.