Lange Chosen As Teacher of the Year

Grant Torre, Editor-in-Chief

Each year, the West High community comes together to nominate teachers for the annual Teacher-of-the-Year Award. This year, the selection committee chose Mrs. Lange, one of West High’s Art Teachers.

   When selecting the recipient of this award, a committee looks at teachers’ commitment to excellence, dedication to all students, leadership to other colleagues, currency in her field, and participation as a member of the school team. Mrs. Lange has demonstrated superior characteristics in every category during her many years at West.
   The committee’s decision was announced at a staff meeting after school on Thursday, May 16th, and Mrs. Lange explained her reaction as “extremely excited, happy, and shocked.”
   After being hired here at West, Mrs. Lange created a curriculum for AP Studio Art, giving new opportunities to talented students. One of these AP Studio Art students, Caroline Chiou (12), explains how Mrs. Lange harshly critiques AP students’ art, leaving Chiou “nearly in tears by the end of it.” But this tough love only propels her students to further success, as Chiou concedes, “I have been able to improve so much under her.” Several other student recommendations echo the fact that Mrs. Lange never fails to push her students passed their comfort zones, helping them create breathtaking artwork in the process.
   In addition to student recommendations, several teachers backed Mrs. Lange in the Teacher-of-the-Year nomination process. Mr. Hettinger noted Mrs. Lange’s efforts to help students outside of the Fine Arts Department when he wrote, “This past fall, she helped arrange for some tickets to be donated for me to take several students to see a play on Civil War history in Hollywood. Then afterward, she brought out her husband Ted (the writer and lead actor) to meet my students and answer any questions they had.” Plainly, Mrs. Lange is not only interested in improving the education of her students, but also the education of every student at West.
   ASB President Anthony Xian (12), member of this year’s selection committee, explains the decision with, “I’ve never had Mrs. Lange, but I know for a fact that any time that I see projects from Art 1, I am impressed. It seems she has the qualities that bring the best artwork out in a person, and people enter her classroom as students, and leave as artists.” The obvious transformation that her students’ artistic ability takes throughout a year in her art classes was a major factor in the committee’s decision.
   But more important than the accomplishments that her peers pointed out, is Mrs. Lange’s genuine love for teaching. When asked about how she stumbled upon teaching art, Mrs. Lange described, “Art is my earliest memory. I remember coloring as a little girl, so I loved art.” After teaching for so long, Mrs. Lange admits that students motivate her to become a better teacher. “When I see students who excel in every subject in addition to art, it inspires me to produce more artwork because if they can do it, so can I,” she explains.
   Additionally, Mrs. Lange enjoys acting as a role model for students who might not have found a passion as she describes, “I love when I open doors for a student that allow them to realize that they are good at something.” She also recalls a handicapped student who inspires her, “He can barely hold a paintbrush but I push him to create art that he is proud of, and that is inspiring.” Mrs. Lange attempts to connect with every student, enabling them to be successful in future endeavors.
   Mrs. Lange continues to mold her curriculum with our needs, as she works to actively incorporate technology into her classroom and connect art assignments to topics in other subjects. She doesn’t see her role as telling her students exactly what to do, but guiding them and letting them make discoveries on their own. Mrs. Lange describes her method as, “I give them a structure for success, but they discover their own creativity. There’s structure underneath each assignment, but it’s always open ended. If a student came to me asking to do something new, I’d say yes because they’re being creative.” With this forward thinking, Mrs. Lange is a model of what a teacher should be and is a deserving recipient of the 2013 Teacher-of-the-Year Award.