Inspiring Educator Award: Peg Pasternak

"She has always been an incredibly devoted teacher, and spends countless days making sure that she pushes her students to do their best and helps everyone in the class succeed. I only had her for a semester but we created a bond I have never had with any other teacher."

"She is always excited to see what I came up with for my projects and encouraged me to think out of the box."

"She is an amazing role model and teacher."

"Her work, advice and compassion surpass the classroom. She makes me excited to go to school and even more excited to see what my future holds."

"She is by far the best teacher I have ever had."

These are just a few of the comments shared by BHHS art students that catapulted art teacher Peg Pasternak to be honored with the "Inspiring Educator Award" from the Scholastic Art Awards program. The award will be given on the evening of Monday, February 11, at the Detroit Film Theater in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Pasternak has been teaching in Bloomfield Hills for eleven years, with a variety of experience in the different high schools, and has seen the schools through their transitions. Now happily ensconced in a BHHS classroom, Pasternak brings the Model philosophy to the mainstream. Over the years, classes taught include Graphic Design, Drawing and Painting, and Studio Explorations. This year, Pasternak is teaching Graphic Design, Digital Art, and Photography.

When asked to reflect on teaching in Bloomfield, Pasternak shares, "The best thing about teaching are the students. My perception of my job is fairly simple. I go in every day and try to share my experience, passion for art, and the knowledge that I have acquired. The most important thing I can give my students on a daily basis is the honesty of my own expression. In return, I get so much back from the kids. I learn of their experience and passions, and they are always teaching me. But most importantly, they give me the honesty of their own expression. I think that as both an artist and a human that is an ultimate goal. Be you. Be honest.

"The other thing I love about my job are my colleagues. Working with Tessa Basirico, Matt Beauchamp, and Barb Brownson is like being in band with rock stars. They're brilliant, funny, and compassionate people who care deeply about their students and the arts. Like my students, they have helped me grow as a teacher and a person.

"I enjoy teaching Graphic Design, Digital Art and Photography. My own undergraduate degree was in illustration and my master's degree was in painting. However, I really started as a photographer. The more practiced you become with technology, the more it opens up as a really fluid digital paintbox. Vice versa, it's fun having students make something by hand and then see how they can spin it with the technology. That intersection of human touch and digital universe is particularly interesting to me."

Upon learning about the "Inspiring Educator Award," Pasternak shares, "I was shocked and honored. There are so many great teachers out there, including the ones I work with. I think the deck may have been stacked in my direction a little bit because the award was based on written survey responses from last year's Scholastic winners. Among last year's graduating artists were some magnificent writers. I owe this award to the awesome kids who took the time to answer the survey."

Pasternak received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a MFA from Parsons School of Design. Involvement in the Scholastic Art Awards goes all of the way back to junior and senior years at Rochester Adams High School. As a high school student in 1987, Pasternak won the "Kodak Medallion of Excellence " and a national gold medal for photography.

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