Over the years, I’ve worked hard to ensure that my students feel recognized and appreciated in school. Often, art students yearn for the attention our athletes and theater students receive. This is an important part of being an art teacher, and there are many ways to spotlight art and art students. It’s always interesting to see what other art teachers are doing in this regard. Some things might be obvious, and others might be new ideas to adopt.

Displays, Exhibits, and Events

Putting student work up is an integral part of being an art teacher. After all, is art art if no one sees it? Walking into a school where art is celebrated is the kind of school I know I want to be in. This includes filling the display case. It could mean having a gallery. It could be a large annual K-12 art exhibit or smaller exhibits in the fall and spring.

Many art teachers collaborate with drama or music performances to put on an exhibit families can enjoy before or after a performance. I’ve done this, and it’s a great way to celebrate the arts, as the events are so complementary.

Art teacher Amber Wallin recommends letting people know about your displays. “When new art goes up in the display areas, I send out an all-staff email encouraging other teachers to check it out, just to put it on their radar.” Art teacher Megan Breckenridge suggests making a video of a sideshow of student art, which can be played in homeroom while waiting for the morning announcements to start.

You can also host an art event. Art teacher Karen Aclockworkorange Caldwell shares, “I did a chalk walk, a Trashion show, and an end-of-the-year gallery show in the library.” Other events can include celebrating your school’s Youth Art Month (YAM). More on YAM and ways to celebrate it in your school can be found HERE. Art Teacher Amy Melissa Burison Utzig shares how she celebrates YAM at her school:

“I have a daily Art Trivia Contest with small prizes, 2 Art shows, and set up Art-making activities during all lunches open to both students and staff. I also track everyone who participates with a raffle entry each time for 5 special big art prizes to be awarded on the 31st, but I also use this data to advocate for my program.”


Competitions can be a great motivator for some students. However, all teachers must consider the pros and cons when evaluating the value of competition. Do what works for you, your department, and your students.

Credible competitions include the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Congressional Art Competition, Sony World Photography Awards Youth Competition, YoungArts Competition, Celebrating Art, Vans Custom Culture, National Parent Teacher Association’s Reflections Program, School Specialty Art Contest, and Teen Ink Contests.

One school near me entered the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. In addition to participating in the exhibit in their region, they host an exhibit at the school for their winners.

Artist of the Month
Some teachers choose a student Artist of the Month. Art teacher Jaar Aurekis shares, “Every month, my middle school has an award ceremony. I get to choose one student from each grade (6-8) for an Art award, and they get a fancy sketchbook.”

For younger grades, art teacher LeAnne Byrd Colvin chooses an artist of the day from each class. The students write their names on a door covered with chalkboard contact paper and colored chalk and attach a “brag tag” to their backpacks.

Check out how the following schools celebrate their Art Studnet of the Month:
Herkimer Central High School
Bronx River High School uses its Student News Site to highlight its Art Student Month.
Central Hardin High School


Newsletters are a classic way to share what’s happening in your art program. Teachers can have classroom newsletters or submit art happenings in a school-wide newsletter. Check out schools that have newsletters online:

Medford Public Schools in Medford, MA.
Harrison Central School District in Harrison, NY
Belmont Public Schools, Belmont, MA
Sarah Butcher, Photography Instructor, shared this newsletter with me a few years back.

Social Media

Your school’s social media feeds are a perfect platform to promote the visual arts and increase visibility beyond the school doors. Share pictures of artwork, bulletin boards, blog posts, art events, art shows, and even what’s happening in the art world in your neck of the woods. Some schools may have Social Media Coordinators or Communications Directors to help. However, you promote your art program online, ensure you have buy-in from your administration, and follow your school’s policies when sharing photos of students.

National Art Honor Society/Art Clubs

My students yearned for prestige at the private school I taught at, so we formed a National Arts Honor Society. My students were so proud to wear the rainbow cords on graduation Day! Read my articles on setting up and running our NAHS chapter. Another option to provide leadership roles in the arts could be to form an art club at your school.

Community Events

Community events can be another way to spotlight your students. Over the years, my art program has exhibited at community libraries, community art shows, and the superintendent’s office. A colleague had an exhibit at the local Audobon Center once. Local coffee shops, cafes, galleries, and community art centers are all places you might consider. Also, consider participating in programs like the Memory Project or Empty Bowls.

In what ways do you spotlight art students at your school? Share in the comments!