(WHAS11)--Art teacher Cathy Gruninger, who teaches 750 students in two elementary schools, has been named the ExCel Award winner and teacher of the year in the Greater Clark County School system.
Gruninger splits her teaching time between Bridgepoint Elementary and Thomas Jefferson Elementary, where she has two full classrooms and teaches every student in both schools.
Gruninger said that in a time of test scores and school rankings that elementary students need art and art education more than ever.
Middle school teacher Dawn Spyker said Gruninger's students come into her classroom well prepared. All she has to hear is that Mrs. G. was their teacher and she knows the students are ready for middle school.
At Bridgepoint and Thomas Jefferson, Mrs. G. is the teacher to everyone. She gives students a place to express themselves in paint, clay and paper mache. It is actually, freedom from the rest of school.
Gruninger said she can teach anyone to draw.
"They may not feel successful, but in art class, I tell them, that they are all a success," she said.
At the beginning of the year, Mrs. G. talks a lot about effort and that students will be able to do all of the projects. Right now, they are trying to emulate the work of Vincent Van Gogh with their version of the painting "Starry Night."
As an ExCel Award winner, Cathy Gruninger receives a one thousand dollar teacher grant that will be used for classroom art supplies.
Wednesday’s ceremony was witnessed in person and via computer by students at both schools that Mrs. G. serves. The gymnasium at Bridgepoint was decorated with paper hearts in her honor. It was an artistic expression of love for the teacher they call Mrs. G.