Heathwood Middle School Art Teacher Clare Scurry is this year’s winner of the Columbia Museum of Art’s Mac Arthur Goodwin Award for excellence in education in the arts. She is also one of two winners of this year’s Earl H. Devanny award, given to a member of the Heathwood community who has been significant in the development of the school and who reflects the values and principles upon which Heathwood Hall was founded.
Mrs. Scurry, who is retiring this year after 23 years of teaching at Heathwood, received the Mac Arthur Goodwin Award for “an outstanding contribution to the inspiration of students through her dedicated service.”
“Clare Scurry has been a huge proponent of the Columbia Museum of Art for years,” says CMA Director of Education and Engagement Kerry Kuhlkin-Hornsby. “She brings her 5th-8th graders to the museum every year. As a result, the students become more familiar with the CMA and are comfortable enough to explore their creativity. She represents how a teacher can use an art museum to enrich their teaching and enhance their students’ education.”
For Mrs. Scurry, taking advantage of the museum’s resources has always seemed like a natural extension of what she does with students in the classroom. “The Columbia Museum of Art is such a great resource for students in our community,” she says. “They go above and beyond to know the curricula at all the local school districts and develop lesson plans accordingly. My goal has been to take all grade levels to the museum.”
That commitment to rich and dynamic art education has been a hallmark of Mrs. Scurry’s approach to teaching. She has always been willing to mentor students both in the classroom and beyond, and has helped many over the years win awards for their work from the South Carolina State Fair, the Palmetto Association of Independent Schools, the Columbia Museum of Art, and more.
She has also left a significant mark on Heathwood’s campus, through the 30 art installations she and her students have created, including the mosaics on the columns under the Middle School. That’s just one reason she was honored with the Devanny Award at this year’s graduation ceremony.
“Clare will be sorely missed as a member of our faculty,” says Head of School Chris Hinchey. “Fortunately, she’s also a Heathwood grandparent, and we look forward to staying in touch when she comes back to campus to see class plays and projects.”
While she may be retiring from full-time teaching, Mrs. Scurry will continue her long-time work in ceramics and anticipates remaining active in the arts community. “What am I going to do in retirement? What am I not going to do?” she says. “I would love to keep teaching classes in some capacity. Teaching inspires me creatively, and teaching at Heathwood has just been fun. Middle school students come in and are just so alive, so willing to experiment and try new things. The joy of working with them is a big part of why I’ve loved my time at Heathwood.”
Recently, Mrs. Scurry reflected on her goals as a teacher and on the value of art education, and wrote the following statement:
“Our job as adults and teachers is to raise the next generation as a more civil and humane society. If adults are more sensitive to others and to their surroundings, they will appreciate and care for their environment and their fellow man.
“Art does this. If we connect aesthetically, if we have good aesthetics, how can we not want to improve the world around us? When we study history and artists who have gone before, we learn about what it takes to make art and what influenced their art—politics, society, nature, economics. Making connections from then to now is so important.
“And what is more gratifying than to make marks, whether they are in color or black and white, in clay, or in the sand or dirt? As Picasso once said, every child is an artist. The problem is trying to remain one once he grows up.
“I want to expose my students to different ways of making art, to develop curiosity and an appreciation of doing and seeing things differently. Creative people are open to new ideas and new experiences.
“If things aren’t working in the world, let’s put our heads together and figure out another way. We might just find success, beauty, and fulfillment along the way. What is better than to find gratification, physically, emotionally, and spiritually?”