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Archive for the ‘Teacher of the Year’ Category

And The Award Goes To …

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015


pat sturtzel


Patricia Sturtzel of Louisville, Ky., has been named 2015 Teacher of the Year by The International Association of Creative Arts Professionals.


Nominated for this award by her students in recognition of the quality of her teaching and the enthusiasm she generates for the world of quiltmaking, Pat is best known for facilitating group collaborative quilts and for teaching fiber art processes. For the past 10 years, Pat has focused on working with students in a variety of environments, facilitating projects with kindergarten through high school students (including pregnant and parenting teens) and frequently conduct professional development workshops for classroom teachers to help them include the fiber arts into their curriculum, making connections to cultures, math and science. Workshops often include adaptations for working with students of all abilities including those with disabilities. In the realm of arts in healing, she regularly facilitates arts sessions with adults recovering from substance abuse, veterans with PTSD and other mental health issues, older adults with dementia, children at a mental hospital, survivors of cancer and refugees. While many of these sessions include other art forms, she involves working with fabrics and other fibers when possible. Tie-dye activities are popular as well as a no-sew “fabric collage” process that she has developed. Several times a year, she also works with quiltmakers and others wanting to learn fabric dyeing, surface design techniques and incorporation of those fabrics into quilts. She wants people to connect with fabric, so she has developed a variety of methods for that to happen.


Other finalists for this prestigious award included Susan Emory, Richmond, Va.; Debbie Maddy, Graham, Texas; Gwen Marston, Beaver Island, Mich.; and Carol Soderlund, Geneva, N.Y.


This is the 30th year this award has been presented by the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals, a organization dedicated to empowering quilt, fiber, mixed-media and other creative artists to craft business success from their passion through education, professional development and networking. Teachers, who are nominated by their students or employers, are judged based on the answers to a questionnaire. The criteria include commitment to development of fine workmanship and personal expression of students; involvement in and contributions to the field of quiltmaking; and professionalism, including personal code of ethics and serving as a role model.


Judges for the 2015 competition were Jacquie Gering, award-winning modern quilter and the 2015 Quilt Teacher of the Year; Mimi Dietrich, well-known appliqué artist, teacher and author and the 2014 Teacher of the Year; and Laurie Bay, artist and longarm quilter.


Meet Jacquie Gering, 2014 Teacher of the Year

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

For 29 years, the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals has recognized outstanding teachers. This year’s recipient is Jacquie Gering. Here’s some insight into her teaching philosophy.

What standards of workmanship do you require of your students? What do you do if they don’t attain them?biopic2

I expect my students to do their best, though that may not be the same for every student. Expecting the same standard for every student isn’t how students grow and develop as sewers and quilters. I try and assess students’ levels of development as they sew and create in my class. It is my role as a teacher to take them from where they are and move them forward in their development. As most of us do, I teach classes with master sewers and beginners in the same class. It is important that each of those students learn despite the gap in the skill levels they brought into the class. It is my job as a teacher to differentiate my instruction and support during class time to meet the needs of each individual.

It’s also important to remember that class is for learning. Mistakes are a natural part of that process and should be celebrated. We actually learn more when we make errors, but we need to learn from them. I had a student in my hexagon class sew her first y-seam and comment to me that it didn’t look like mine. My response to her was that I’ve sewn thousands and she’s sewn one. We looked at her work together and I encouraged her to look at her piecing and identify what needed to change in the next one. As I teacher I need to encourage and motivate students to work hard and to improve. Expecting immediate perfection of themselves or from me can lead to frustration and an unwillingness to try and make mistakes. I try to create a safe environment in the classroom where students feel comfortable to try.

My class doesn’t end at the end of the class day. I provide handouts for each class, which help students review and remember what was taught in class. I encourage students to share their in progress and/or finished projects by email or get in touch with me with questions or concerns. Ongoing support and encouragement is an essential component of my teaching philosophy

How do you encourage creativity in your students?

I think the most effective technique for encouraging creativity in my students is by not giving them the answer. My job as their teacher is to put them in their zone of development, that place where they are a bit uncomfortable, but not paralyzed and frustrated. It is in that zone that students will learn the most. When students ask me questions, I try to guide rather than give. I can tell a student what to do, but if I do that, when they leave me, they won’t have developed the confidence or skills to deal with the decisions that will need to be made in their own sewing rooms. I have to assess quickly and know when to support and when to push and challenge a student. For some students they get loads of support at the beginning of class and I lessen the support and move them to more independence as the class progresses. It is a dance of moving in and pulling away and reading students reactions in the process.

I also provide many samples to inspire students. With only one sample, students have the tendency to want to copy. With multiple samples and possibilities, students start to open their minds to options and creativity.

Lastly, I capitalize on creating a creative community in the classroom. With 20 students I have twenty teaching assistants that are at the ready. As students create I share student work, accomplishments, mistakes and questions with the rest of the class. Learning from each other provides so many opportunities to see into the minds of other quilters, examples of ideas coming to life, or techniques being learned. I am always respectful of students’ privacy and their work. I don’t share unless they give me permission. I also don’t manipulate, cut, or change the work of students without their permission. Most students are willing, but some don’t want to be in the spotlight or need time to be confident to share, especially mistakes and as a teacher I need to respect their wishes.

How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?

I am a “teach a student to fish, rather than give a student a fish” kind of teacher. I teach primarily technique and design classes. Those are skills that students will take with them beyond what they make or produce in a three or six hour class. I also work hard to build confidence in my students. Students who believe they can, will when they are no longer in a classroom setting. Lastly, I work hard to inspire students. Quilting is fun and joyful. Class should never be tedious even if the technique is difficult. I try to create a lighthearted fun atmosphere in class that will inspire students to go home and sew!

What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the field of quilting?

I self identify as a modern quilter and I am an enthusiastic advocate for modern quilting. I was fortunate to be at the forefront as the modern quilting movement gained momentum and grew in popularity and exposure. I have earned respect in the community and I am proud to be one of the representatives of the movement. I have worked to educate about the movement and am especially proud that I have brought new and younger quilters into the larger quilting community as well as helped the community begin to understand and embrace the modern movement. My work in educating about modern quilting has also allowed me to share the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from being a quilter.

Meet Mimi Dietrich, Our Teacher of the Year

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

For 27 years the International Association of Professional Quilters has recognized outstanding teachers. This year our award goes to Maryland appliqué artist Mimi Dietrich. Here is some insight into her teaching philosophy:

What standards of workmanship do you require of your students? What do you do if they don’t attain them?

I am an appliqué teacher. As far as standards of workmanship, all I ask is that my students try. Some students come to my class with preconceived ideas about applique. Some are very afraid of the “A” word when they come to my class, some are afraid they will not be able to make small stitches that they have read about. I just ask them to try. To try to make the stitches as small as possible on the top of their work, as consistent as possible, following steps that I give them for the traditional appliqué stitch. As they practice and keep stitching, the stitches will get smaller, more even and consistent on the top and bottom. I ask them to have fun stitching the appliqué to the background fabric, trusting that they will get better with each stitch. They usually get hooked!

How do you encourage creativity in your students?

I encourage creativity in my students by suggesting that they substitute elements in the applique patterns. They can substitute a gathered flower for a rose, folded buds for little flowers or clumps of berries, or even add their favorite butterfly to a floral design. Many students feel that they have to follow a pattern exactly. I love it when they change things and make the design their own. I also encourage them to make Baltimore Album quilts using their favorite colors and fabrics, rather than the traditional red and green. We discuss how the traditional quilts were made, but it’s exciting to see students make the quilt with their own style.

How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?

I encourage them to do “research,” which means searching for photos of appliquéd quilts and looking at quilts in shows. I give them names of books, magazines, quilt shows and web sites to inspire them. One of my favorite ways of helping students grow is a group I host once a month called my “Graduate School.” It is only for students that have taken my year-long class in Baltimore. I am not paid for it because I love it so much, and we are now in our 20th year! Right now there are 40 active participants. In the morning we have show and tell. In the afternoon, we choose a project for the year and work on different blocks each month. My favorite part of this is that I require each student to be a “presenter.” They are wonderful and this has encouraged some of them to “really” become appliqué teachers.

What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the field of quilting?

My greatest contribution to the field of quilting is the first book I wrote, Happy Endings: Finishing the Edges of your Quilt.  I wrote the book in 1988 and this year it is going to be re-released with its fourth edition and a new cover. That’s 25 years! That’s amazing in the world of quilt books. But the true importance of the book is that it taught thousands of quilters how to put binding on their quilts! That means quilts are getting finished!

Please share your thoughts or leave a reply in the section below.

Meet Pamela Allen, 2012 Quilt Teacher of the Year

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
What standards of workmanship do you require of your students? What do you do if they don’t attain them?

This makes me smile, as I may be somewhat of an aberration when it comes to traditional workmanship as defined by the standards of a quilt show judge. The focus of my teaching is always the making of art that just happens to be stitched fabric. I believe that any construction method and any technique is appropriate so long as the piece has structural integrity. I help students to find a resourceful and personal way to solve technical problems and often demonstrate techniques and share helpful hints that may be useful to realize their idea.

How do you encourage creativity in your students?

I’m a believer in lots of discussion and lots of visual stimulation. When I set up the classroom, I try to make it look like a working studio with lots of artwork on the walls and, when possible, a U-shaped plan for the tables so students can see one another. I also like to have a common pool of fabrics, donated by the class and me, to encourage each artist to try materials they may not normally choose. My instructions to students are more about attitude than technique in that there are no patterns, very few rules and only general parameters for each exercise. I talk about the idea that a new work is like a stream of consciousness, where what has gone before will dictate what comes next, and I support any number of solutions to a given problem. Thus the student isn’t pursuing a narrow avenue towards a fixed goal, but rather an expanding highway with many exits and entrances. This allows the student to choose her own subject matter and personal content and encourages a meaningful attachment to the work. As a work progresses, I ask for the work to be put up on the wall, and the student and I have a brainstorming session about problems or where to go next. Other students benefit from this as well because they may be having the same issues and can learn by sharing.

How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?

Building confidence is an important element for further growth.  This is why, throughout the class, I try to focus on the students’ strengths and encourage them to build upon those. Often all it takes is to overcome a self-conscious reticence, and the artist can make the leap into the unknown with wonderful results. I encourage the students to conduct their designing by asking, “What if I do …?” With a growing confidence, the artist can answer by actually trying a solution without fear. Another reassuring phrase I repeat is, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I try to share my own experience of revising less than perfect work or cutting and reassembling it into a new idea. I suppose it is related to my idea of being flexible about the direction a work may take. Humor is a big part of this process as well, and there is often much giggling and hilarity when the solution turns out to be a very funky potholder!

Why do you teach?

I confess I really enjoy teaching! I like meeting new people and going to new places. I love it when I can see a student take some risks, try something new, and then have a eureka moment as the reward! I enjoy hearing from former students that they have been juried into some national show or won a prize at their local guild show. Some have sent me photos of the class quilt that they have gone on to finish, and I can “read” the pleasure they have taken in it. It is not a one-way street either. I have learned things from my students as well. I was not the greatest sewer in the world at first, and it was a student who sat me down and showed me that making bindings wasn’t that hard after all!

You can read more about Pamela in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter, the journal of the International Association of Professional Quilters. The journal is available to members, and you can join here.

Please share your thoughts below.

Meet Lyric Kinard, Teacher of the Year

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Each year the International Association of Professional Quilters selects a Quilt Teacher of the Year. Our 25th Teacher of the Year is Lyric Kinard, from Cary, N.C.,  who specializes in surface design and the basic elements of art and design. Here is some insight into Lyric’s teaching philosophy.


What standards of workmanship do you require of your students? What do you do if they don’t attain them?

The only “standard of workmanship” that I ask of students is that they try the technique, give it a fair shot. If it doesn’t live up to some impossible standard in their head after one try, they may then say, “I’m still learning this,” “I need more practice” or “I might just have learned that this isn’t the technique for me.” The only thing I don’t allow is the “I can’t” mentality. Beginners often compare themselves to those who have already put in many hours learning and mastering a technique then feel discouraged by their outcome.


How do you encourage creativity in your students?

I never tell students what they should do when creating a work of art. I ask question after question after question until they find the answers for themselves. Helping students to gain confidence in their own creative choices is one of my greatest goals.


How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?

Everything I teach is geared towards giving the students the tools they need to grow and develop their own creative abilities. Sometimes the techniques are simply tools to help them achieve the vision in their minds. Sometimes it is opening and freeing their minds and hearts so that they are able to give themselves permission to experiment without fear of failure. I teach that failure is simply a learning process and often a necessary step on the road to great and creative works.


What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the field of quilting?

I’ve recently authored the book Art + Quilt: design principles and creativity exercises. In it I express my firm belief that art can be learned and that creativity is present in every person. It takes time and effort, but it can be done. If I am able to help quilters to reject the inner critic that keeps them from experimenting and moving forward, if I can help them embrace and encourage their inner artists, that is all I can hope to accomplish, and it will be enough.

You can read more about Lyric in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter, the journal of the International Association of Professional Quilters. The journal is available to members, and you can join here.

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The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.


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