GRAND RAPIDS – There aren’t many awards in the world of education, so when Cindy Todd, chair of the Art Education program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University garnered two of the highest honors in her field, she knew that she had accomplished something special. The Michigan Art Education Association has announced Todd as its Educator of the Year and Higher Education Art Educator of the Year for 2014.
“In the day-to-day life of an educator, you’re not thinking about an award or some other recognition for your work; you’re really just doing the work because it needs to be done,” Todd said. “When I was told I had been nominated for these honors, I was speechless, because you can’t expect something like this will happen. I tell my students all the time that if you’re not teaching because you want to make a difference in your students’ lives every day, then you need to go into something else.”
Throughout her career, Todd has made creating impact her top priority, both in her own classroom and in the larger sphere of art education. Before coming to KCAD in 2004, she taught at Cornerstone University and Oakland University, as well as at the high school and junior high levels. She also has gained a wealth of leadership experience through a number of positions with both the MAEA and the National Art Education Association.
Todd first got involved with the MAEA in 2007 as a member of the organization’s Advocacy Committee. She would go on to serve on multiple iterations of the MAEA Conference Steering Committee, teach courses at its Summer Professional Development Institute, co-chair its annual conference in 2013, serve as its president-elect from 2007-09, and serve as its president from 2009-11.
Throughout her extensive involvement with the NAEA, Todd has been a keynote speaker at four different NAEA state organization conferences, helped plan and participated in several of the NAEA Western Region’s Leadership Forums and Retreats, presented at seven different NAEA national conferences, served on the organization’s Platform Statement Writing Committee, and was appointed to a special task force created to devise a new NAEA leadership development program. She currently serves as the Vice President Elect of the NAEA’s Western Region, and will assume the role of vice president in 2017.
“These things are important, not just to the kids in our schools, but to move the profession forward, and they’re exciting,” she said. “I love to be involved in education at the organizational level.”
Kim Cairy, past MAEA president and current NAEA middle level director, nominated Todd for the Educator of the Year and Higher Education Art Educator of the Year awards. A panel of MAEA members evaluated each nominee through a rigorous and comprehensive rubric, with awards going to the nominee who registered the highest score.
“Cindy Todd is the model of what an art educator should be,” Cairy said. “I have had the privilege of working with Cindy over the past ten years, and have continually been impressed with the professionalism she brings to any organization she belongs to, the passion she has for the arts, the enthusiasm she demonstrates for her work, and the relationships she is able to build with both her peers and her students. Cindy is truly deserving of being named both MAEA Educator of the Year and Higher Education Art Educator of the Year. I am blessed to have been able to work alongside her, and know of no one more deserving of this honor.”
Here at KCAD, Todd’s leadership, vision, and commitment have set a positive example that her students have been eager to follow. Last year, the KCAD NAEA student chapter was named the organization’s Outstanding Student Chapter for the numerous community service projects undertaken by the students, including work with Kids Food Basket, ArtPrize Education Days, and The Memory Project, a unique initiative where KCAD students created portraits of children in Ghana and sent them overseas for the children to enjoy. Todd was honored with the national Outstanding Student Chapter Sponsor of Excellence Award the year before.
“Even though they’ve had such tremendous success, I would never tell my students that the awards come, because educators spend the vast majority of our time doing work that’s internally fulfilling,” Todd said. “You get to live every day with the immense satisfaction of knowing you made an impact.”