TUALATIN, Ore. — The Tualatin City Council paid special recognition today to Tualatin High School fine arts instructor Jeanine Miller by presenting her with its Community Enhancement Award. She was lauded for starting the city’s Student Visual Chronicle program in 2007, which has succeeded in connecting students with the community through artistic expression and writing.
The Community Enhancement Award was created to recognize individuals or organizations whose contributions have impacted arts-related experiences for local residents. The Tualatin Arts Advisory Committee identifies award candidates and makes recommendations to the City Council.
According to Miller, the Student Visual Chronicle project involves having students depict a meaningful scene within Tualatin’s city limits — a park, a sidewalk or neighborhood setting. The students then write a few paragraphs expressing why they chose the subject matter and why it resonates with them.
“I started it as a way to connect kids to the community and to flex their creative muscles in art and writing,” Miller explained. “I think projects that get the kids involved in the community make them into better citizens. If a teacher can incorporate that into their lessons, it just creates a great opportunity for kids.”
The city picks the images they like best, and purchases them. This year, the city has chosen three acrylic paintings and one photograph. Then the artwork goes into its permanent collection, which now numbers 29 pieces.
Each year, the city puts on a nice arts exhibition at the Tualatin Public Library and holds a reception for the students. This year’s show of about 15 works is slated for Thursday, May 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Miller has promoted the city’s Student Visual Chronicle program at the high school and works countless hours with students to create artwork for the program.
“Each year, it’s so fun to see the students beaming with pride over what they’ve accomplished,” said Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden as he presented Miller with the award. “I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve given our young people.”
This isn’t the first project where Jeanine Miller was called upon to rally her art students for a good cause. Last year, she worked with students in using art to comfort the Newtown, Connecticut, community after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
After seeing the news about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on television in December 2012, communications consultant Tamara Hufford-Wong shared her idea with Miller to reach out to the Newtown community through art.
Miller’s classes of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders crafted batik, quilted wall hangings, which were sent to the Healing Newtown organization (http://www.healingnewtown.org). Each student painted a square of fish or flowers, which were stitched together for form quilts.
The Art in the Burbs foundation (www.artintheburbs.org) provided the funding for the Student Visual Chronicle and wall hangings for Newton.
About Jeanine Miller
Jeanine Miller has taught in the Tigard Tualatin School District since 2001. She earned a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Oregon, and received her teaching credentials in Art and Math from Humbolt State University. She and her husband, Jim, raised three children and live in Sherwood.