PLYMOUTH >> Ask Plymouth Whitemarsh High School photography teacher Candance Maggioncalda about her standout moments as an educator, and her answer invariably revolves around the “amazing creativity and skill” her students bring to the classroom.

That perspective is just one reason the Pennsylvania Art Education Association has named Maggioncalda its 2017 Outstanding Secondary Art Educator. Presentation of the award is scheduled to take place during PAEA’s annual conference, Oct. 19-22 in Pittsburgh, and recognizes the local teacher’s “passion and commitment to art education” as well as her “unceasing efforts and innovative activity in promoting art’s value and importance.”

That effort and activity is tough to summarize. Maggioncalda established a PW chapter of the National Art Honor Society in 2004 and has sponsored the group ever since. Throughout the years, NAHS members have completed countless community service projects in settings that have ranged from municipal fairs and libraries to nursing homes.

Upcoming NAHS outreach includes face painting at next month’s Brad Fox Memorial 5K and PW faculty-staff Homecoming events.

The group’s annual induction ceremony is complemented by an alumni art show and guest speakers. Maggioncalda’s current students routinely participate in numerous area and regional exhibits and competitions. And their success beyond the classroom — “getting recognized for their creativity at another level” — never gets old, she says.

“For example, last spring when Maddy Fair won the (Prescription Overdose Awareness Billboard Contest) in Montgomery County,” continues Maggioncalda, who teaches Photography 1 and 2, A.P. 2D and Photo Major classes. “I was so proud of Maddy. She designed a powerful poster that won a county-wide contest, and then her poster was displayed on boards throughout Montgomery County. Or when a student gets one of their fine art photographs accepted into a juried art show. It’s the best feeling. I am so proud of my students.”

Maggioncalda also serves as PW Photo Club sponsor, and its members have received high marks for their Photoshop tutorials for classmates. The sessions take place during “bonus blocks” in the “Visual Art Design Center” she developed.

“I honestly believe that my students keep me excited, and they fuel my energy,” Maggioncalda says. “My students are the best part of teaching. Teaching A.P. 2D Studio and Photo Majors is so rewarding. They have to come up with a portfolio that is creative and stands out for the College Board. When I see a student go on to pursue their passion — like art education, graphic design, photography or art — I’m so happy for them, and I feel like I’ve made a difference in this student’s life.”

The Lancaster County native has called her father (who taught middle school art classes) and art teachers at Hempfield High School, Kutztown University and Philadelphia’s University of the Arts major influences in her own creative development. She earned art education degrees – a bachelor’s and master’s – at Kutztown and UArts, respectively, before joining PW’s faculty in 2003.

Maggioncalda, whose passion for photography was preceded by a preference for watercolor painting, hopes her students’ exposure to the arts helps “open their minds to see the world in a different way.”

“Having art in a school is so important (because it helps) student learn how to problem-solve and balance out all of the academic expectations that students have today,” she reasons. “Today, we live in such a visual world, encouraging students to take any kind of a creative class will benefit them in the changing world.”

Concetta Mattioni, an art teacher and art department coordinator at Penncrest High School in Media, expanded on Maggioncalda’s description of her work at PW when she co-nominated her for PAEA recognition.

“Candy’s role as a leader in the school and district include being the Art Department liaison for secondary education,” noted Mattioni, a 1984 PW grad who received the PAEA award in 2012. “As the department liaison, she is responsible for attending monthly meetings with administration and other department heads, coordinating monthly department meetings, organizing the budget, coordinating the K-12 Colonial School District annual art exhibition, coordinating department field trips and scheduling art school visitations.

“Candy is an innovative and creative thinker who has offered much to the overall curriculum of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program at PW. She designed the curricula for…A.P. 2D Studio, Photography 1, Photography 2, Photo Major and Aspiring Entrepreneur (classes). In addition…she designed and implemented the Visual Art Design Center at PW (and) presented this program at the Design Workshop at the University of the Arts as well as the 2015 and 2016 PAEA State Conferences.

“I believe Candy…is the perfect candidate for the Outstanding Secondary Art Educator Award. She is a leader and an excellent art educator who is devoted to her department, school and community.”

Not surprisingly, Maggioncalda was simultaneously “surprised and happy” when she received word she’d been selected.

“I made my husband open the letter,” she says. “I know how many great art educators there are in Pennsylvania, so I was thrilled that PAEA recognized me among my colleagues.”

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