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The North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative at Arts Huntsville has recognized Noel Newquist for his work in art education. This portrait of Noel Newquist and his son was painted by his wife. PHOTO / North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative at Arts Huntsville

Newquist works to improve community awareness of the arts

MADISON – The North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative at Arts Huntsville has recognized Noel Newquist for improving community awareness of the fine arts.

Newquist earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. In 2011, he received a master’s degree in educational theory from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

He has taught elementary school art in Madison City Schools since 2008 and attained National Board Certified Teacher or NBCT status in 2018. His students know him as ‘Mr. New.’

“Noel believes that success of any community is directly related to intellectual and spiritual growth of its children. He’s passionate about working for schools and churches because of their impact on the community’s future,” Karen Anderson said. Anderson is Director of North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative at Arts Huntsville.

“Noel works tirelessly to improve community awareness of the arts. Mr. New exhibits his students’ artwork at many local venues,” Anderson said.

In 2016, Newquist started a YouTube channel called “Mr. New’s Art Class” to feature videos about aspects of art. He hopes to teach and entertain global viewers.

“I never had an art class until I was a senior. That class opened my eyes that anyone can learn skills to manipulate various art materials. I immediately grew a passion for sharing that creative light bulb,” he said.

Newquist enjoys seeing students’ different perspectives. “… their own interests, experiences and prior knowledge. There’s never a dull moment,” he said.

During COVID protocols. Newquist improvised with plexiglass dividers as a cave-painting lesson. Students crumpled, flattened and clipped paper to plexiglass to resemble a rock wall. Only the SmartBoard projector emitted light for a subterranean aura. He gave students a condiment cup with a squirt of paint, and they finger-painted on their ‘cave walls.’

He changes “students’ paradigms about things that we think of so negatively. I turn that around … fun and productivity,” he said.

During “uncertain times, two important aspects of arts education are individual expression and meditation. I give my students extra opportunities to either release pent-up anxieties or clear their minds,” Newquist said.

For more information about North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative at Arts Huntsville, email Anderson at karen@artshuntsville.org.

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