Return to Headlines

Waco ISD earns statewide distinction for visual arts education

Waco ISD 2023 graduate Maritza Degollado-Ramirez was not sure what career path she would take after leaving high school. But after enrolling in her first art class at Waco High School, she realized she had a unique talent through which she could make a living.


“Being in a visual arts class completely transformed my understanding of arts as an occupation and encouraged me to pursue a career I otherwise thought would be unsustainable and unprofitable,” Degollado-Ramirez said. “The classes I've taken at Waco High furthered my skills as an artist, prepared me as a student, and taught me the importance of creative exploration.”


Degollado-Ramirez’s artwork won the Region 12 Mock Trial Courtroom Artist state contest and is one of many activities through which Waco ISD emphasizes the importance of visual arts in public schools. Those efforts resulted in Waco ISD being one of only 68 school districts from among more than 1,200 in Texas to earn the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) District of Distinction Award. The district received the honor for providing a well-rounded education through visual arts curriculum to inspire creativity and build social emotional learning in its students. 


“From district-wide art shows, to contests where students can earn scholarships and other awards, to arts advocacy, to community service and more, Waco ISD students and staff work diligently together to create beautiful works of art and give back to their schools, the district, and the community,” said Waco ISD Director of Fine Arts Larry Carpenter. “Our teachers are dedicated to providing a rich and rewarding visual arts program for students. Students learn more than how to create art. They also learn how to make a living with their art, advocate for their talents, and give back to their community and the world.”


Waco ISD IS one of only 16 districts in the state that has earned the TAEA District of Distinction Award every year since the award’s inception five years ago, placing the district’s visual art programs in the top 1.3 percent of all visual art programming in Texas.


“Waco ISD has set a high standard for visual arts advocacy, integrated visual arts curriculum, encouraged creativity, community participation, and student growth,” said Sandra Newton, Chairman of the Visual Art Administrators of Texas. “It is a true testament to the district’s visual art educators’ skill, dedication, and flexibility that the quality of their programs continues to provide strong and comprehensive visual art educational experiences to students.”


Each district submitted documentation for the award, demonstrating outstanding leadership in promoting the arts both in their district and the community. The TAEA also considers field experiences, community service, and community exhibitions as part of the rigorous 14-point rubric on which school districts are scored to earn the award. Waco ISD visual arts teachers will be honored at the TAEA Fall Conference General Assembly on Friday, November 17, 2023.