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Jessica Stout, chair of the art program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, was recently nominated for the 2014 Excellence in Education Award from the Miami Area Chamber of Commerce. To be nominated for this honor, the educator must have demonstrated exceptional and innovative capabilities in their educational fields. The eligible educators ranged from public, private, charter, and parochial schools. Stout has led NEO’s art program since 2011. One nominator wrote, “Under Jessica’s leadership, the NEO Art Department has flourished. She has been instrumental in the formation of the Charles Banks Wilson Art and Cultural Education Center on campus. The Center includes a gallery which has hosted student art shows, as well as exhibits from nationally known artists for the entire community to enjoy. Because of Jessica’s efforts, original artwork by Charles Banks Wilson is on permanent display at the gallery.”

Stout’s passion for education and teaching of the arts involves students ranging from those hoping to pursue a career in art to novice students enrolled in Introduction to Art. She adapts to all levels of learning by engaging students in and out of the classroom. Stout takes her students to various field trips each year. Last semester she took them to glass-blowing classes and museum field trips to enhance the educational experience. In addition to her regular responsibilities, Stout assisted the college in receiving a grant from the Sarkey’s Foundation to host a weeklong art camp in the summer of 2013 for students in kindergarten through high school. More than 100 area students participated and received instruction from national teaching artists and enjoyed Crystal Bridges Museum. For many of these students, this was their first museum experience. This summer she continued the camp for middle school and high school students interested in art.

Prior to the art camps at NEO, for years Jessica assisted the Miami Arts and Humanities Council’s Art for Fun summer program. “Jessica also worked tirelessly to restore the mural on the wall of Osborn Drugs in downtown Miami. Thanks to her efforts, the community will continue to enjoy a piece of our history,” said Jennifer Hessee, NEO Foundation director. “Jessica secured a generous donation for her work on the project that she has used to fund scholarships for deserving students and art supplies for students in need.”

As an active member of the Miami Arts and Humanities Council, Stout has volunteered her time to ensure the community has access the arts. From the performing arts to the visual arts, the Miami community has been exposed to many forms of art not typically available in rural areas. As an advocate for the arts, Stout graduated in 2013 from the prestigious Oklahoma Leadership Arts program. She was one of only 32 individuals from across the state selected for the program. “For her dedication to teaching and inspiring people of all ages, Jessica is very deserving of this recognition,” said NEO President Dr. Jeff Hale. “She has exemplified the true meaning of an educator.”

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