She motivates; she inspires; she’s involved.
Those are just a few of the ways students and faculty members describe Stephanie Jung, an Amarillo College visual arts instructor.
Jung, an instructor at AC for the past 4½ years, was awarded a Faculty Excellence Award in Instructional Strategies for her contributions to the college and the community. Six other instructors also were recognized during the fall semester ceremony last August.
The awards, which recognize faculty members who excel in areas such as development, innovation, instruction and community involvement, are new to the college this school year. Jung, sponsor of the Fuse Arts Club, received the award for her commitment to her students and the work she and the members of the club complete via community outreach projects.
“Stephanie has a creative spirit that is very inspiring to her students and the community,” said Victoria Taylor-Gore, an assistant professor and visual arts department chairwoman.
Taylor-Gore said Jung comes from a department full of creative and dedicated instructors and has a reputation for being knowledgeable and professional. As someone who calls her fellow instructors “amazing,” Jung said she was shocked to learn she was chosen as an award recipient.
“This is as fine a group of professors and instructors as you’re going to find anywhere,” Jung said. “I’m inspired by my colleagues.”
Inspiration often is mentioned when describing Jung. She leads courses in art history, design and drawing, and students said her passion for the content is evident in the lessons.
“I really like her class a lot,” said Bethany Cates, a graphic design major who is enrolled in Jung’s art history course. “It’s not only about art, but the whole world. I’m riveted the whole time.”
Denisha Kranthoven, a mass communication major who completed the course last semester, echoed Cates and said she enjoyed the class specifically because of Jung’s teaching style.
“She’s a wonderful teacher, always so enthusiastic,” Kranthoven said. “Even if it’s not her favorite subject, she shows interest in it.”
As president of the Fuse Arts Club, Kranthoven has worked with Jung on club projects and events. She said her instructor’s enthusiasm extends far beyond the classroom.
“I really love how she’s involved,” Kranthoven said. “Her main focus is outreach; she feels like that’s very important, just like the rest of us.”
Jung and members of the club organized outreach programs, first at San Jacinto Elementary School and now at the Legacy nursing facility, to bring art to students and residents. Members became involved at Legacy through connections with a former student, and Jung said she thinks the program there is of the utmost importance.
“We’re really dealing with a population people don’t see or want to see,” Jung said. “The position of our elders is ignored but should be honored.”
Group members organize projects they can complete with participants at the facility, Jung said, keeping in mind that they may be facing mobility issues or mental impairment. The workshops benefit residents, Taylor-Gore said, exciting and motivating them as they interact with Jung and her students. But they’re not the only ones who gain from the experience.
“Stephanie’s students learn so much by communicating their ideas and organizing lessons and materials for these workshops as well as understanding the value of sharing art with the community,” Taylor-Gore said.
Though the outreach workshops take weeks of work and a sometimes overwhelming amount of organization, Jung said it’s worth it to share the benefits of art with others in the community.
“To have those moments where you’re just able to be with something visually and not try to verbally analyze it is very restful,” she said. “It quiets your mind.”