LARAMIE, Wyo. (March 25, 20201) – A pair of Albany County School District #1 (ACSD1) teachers have won awards for their efforts in the classroom. Laramie Middle art teacher Abigayle Paytoe has been named the Pacific Region Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association (NAEA), while Slade’s and Centennial’s Paige Gustafson has been named the Wyoming Elementary Art Educator of the Year by the Wyoming Art Education Association (WYAEA).

Paytoe was named the WYAEA Art Educator of the Year before having her nomination forwarded to the national committee and earning the regional award. The Pacific Region covers 14 states and three Canadian provinces. Paytoe was chosen for this honor due to showing exemplary dedication to the profession through presenting at state, regional, and national art education conferences, leadership activities within the NAEA and WYAEA, excellence in teaching and pursuing higher learning, as well as personal artmaking and art exhibiting.

“I love teaching art because I love to see students become artists themselves,” Paytoe said. “Art is a way to give students a voice, ones which can communicate with the world.

Paytoe has been an art educator for 17 years, having started her career in the Laramie County School District at Freedom Elementary. She has been involved with WYAEA in every capacity, having served every Executive Board position, planning the state conferences, and representing Wyoming at the regional and national levels. Paytoe is currently pursuing her doctorate in art education and is making art at her home in Laramie.

Gustafson was chosen as the WYAEA Elementary Art Educator of the Year due to showing exemplary dedication to the profession and excellence in teaching. Gustafson teaches elementary art at Slade Elementary in Laramie, Wyoming and Centennial Elementary School in Centennial, Wyoming.

“I am an advocate and proponent of art being a core subject,” Gustafson said. “The arts are integral in the development of a child and the curriculum should be treated as such. I work every day to help foster a child’s love of learning through the exploratory nature of art”

Gustafson has been an art educator for 11 years and in those years has taken on many leadership roles, including her role as the elementary art chair, the elementary specialist representative to her district’s Meet and Confer Committee, the 504 coordinator for her school, and being on the Wyoming State Fine and Performing Arts Standards Review Board. Gustafson is an advocate for arts education through her work with the Wyoming Education Association.

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