2010 Teacher of the Year
Elizabeth "Betsy" DiJulio
Elizabeth (Betsy) DiJulio, a high school visual arts teacher at Princess Anne High School, was named the 2010 Virginia Beach City Public Schools Citywide Teacher of the Year. In a surprise visit made to her classroom, Superintendent James G. Merrill and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christine Caskey made the announcement and presented her with an engraved school bell and other congratulatory gifts.
Chosen from an initial pool of 88 teachers representing their schools, DiJulio was one of 10 semi-finalists selected to receive classroom visits by the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. The field was further narrowed when five finalists were individually interviewed by the Committee. According to Selection Committee Chairperson Jobynia Caldwell, each of the finalists was an outstanding, creative teacher. However, DiJulio was noteworthy in her ability to “think globally, act locally” and thereby develop lessons that are “creative and inspiring, combining rigor with authentic learning experiences” that link students to the larger world community. She encourages her students to think critically and creatively, to explore options, to experiment and collaborate with one another. Her enthusiasm for her profession ignites in her students an eagerness and determination to do well. One of her students puts it this way: “Mrs. DiJulio is more than Teacher of the Year. She is an inspiration and one of the best teachers I have ever had the privilege of learning from…She has helped me develop my skills not only in art, but my own personal character as well.”
DiJulio believes that an outstanding teacher is one who “opens students’ eyes, hearts and minds, knowing that profound learning happens when the cognitive (academic) and affective (emotional) are both engaged. She also believes that the creative impulse goes hand in hand with communication and that both are fundamental to innovative classroom practices. For example, last school year DiJulio invited Virginian-Pilot illustrator Sam Hundley to give a schoolwide presentation about his experiences as an artist and illustrator. As a follow-up to the presentation, DiJulio challenged her students to illustrate and interpret a relevant and current newspaper article through linoleum block printmaking. Her students’ prints were so formally and conceptually good that the class presented Hundley with a portfolio of them which in turn prompted him to give a gift of his prints to each student and to DiJulio. This school year DiJulio engineered a field trip to the Mutambo Exhibition at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Following the trip, her students created art work based on the exhibit they saw. Their creations so impressed administrators at the ODU Higher Education Center that they invited the students to exhibit their work at the Center.
DiJulio’s students say they find her classes challenging and inspiring. They not only learn about art technique, form and design, but they also learn about culture and history and gain an international perspective. Students learn as much about themselves and their world as they do art. Students problem solve, think critically, make connections, and communicate with one another and the world around them. They access and analyze information to help them understand and release their creativity within.
DiJulio has been a teacher for five years, with all of these years dedicated to Virginia Beach City Public Schools and Princess Anne High School. She is a National Board Certified teacher and received a Teacher Commendation at the Summer Governor’s School for the Arts in Richmond in 2008. She also is a working artist, exhibiting in numerous venues and performing pro bono art work for several non-profit organizations. In addition, DiJulio is an inveterate presenter, cooperating teacher and mentor, while serving as an instructor and group facilitator for the Virginia Beach and Norfolk school divisions as well as Virginia Wesleyan College. She regularly serves as an art reviewer for such publications as School Art Magazine, Advanced Art Curriculum Guide, and High School Visual Art Resource Guide.
DiJulio is a five-year veteran teacher. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Art from the University of Southern Mississippi; an M.A. in Art History from Vanderbilt University, and an Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from The George Washington University.
For more information about Betsy DiJulio or the 2010 Virginia Beach Schools Teacher of the Year program, please contact the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at 757.263.1070.