Art educator surprised by winning state award

By JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

NORTH BRUNSWICK – A well-established art teacher at North Brunswick Township High School (NBTHS) has another accolade to add to her palette.

Valerie Y. Snyder-Grollman is the 2017 Arts Educator of the Year, named by New Jersey State Teen Arts. The award is made possible through grants from the New Jersey Education Association and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

“[Principal Pete] Clark entered me without telling me until I had actually won. He gave me the exciting news the evening of the District Arts Festival and you could have knocked me over with a feather. I am so very honored that he had faith that I could win this prestigious award,” Grollman said.

Grollman is in her 37th year as a member of the North Brunswick School District, having graduated from Rutgers University/ Douglass College and starting her career in North Brunswick on Dec. 1, 1980, as a Linwood Middle School teacher before moving to NBTHS.

She teaches general art classes which include painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic design and art history.

“It is always nice to be recognized for one’s work but there’s more work to be done,” she said “At the current time I am still working to get a MakerSpace started in at NBTHS and we appear to be moving closer to that worthy goal.”

Grollman was named a Teacher Who Makes Magic! by radio station Magic 98.3 FM and the NJEA in 2006. In addition, she is the only Middlesex County teacher to receive the 2015 Exemplary Secondary Educator award from the New Jersey State Department of Education, and was awarded a mini-grant of $250 by the NBTHS Parent-Teacher- Student Organization to hold the aforementioned Maker Faire science fair/county fair event at the school.

“It is very gratifying to see that the wider world is beginning to value the arts as an integral part of building a student who is capable of thinking outside the box,” she said. “To quote Rick Lasher, past president of the Art Educators of New Jersey, ‘Without art we would all find ourselves sitting naked on a rock in an empty field.'”

Grollman received the Educator of the Year award along with a stipend of $3,500 during the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival at Ocean County College in Toms River on June 2.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.