Editor’s Note: This the second in a series on north Okaloosa County Teachers of the Year.
CRESTVIEW — Not many students wrap themselves from head to toe in clear plastic tape during class, but Laurel Breaux, Crestview High School’s art department chair, regularly finds ways for students to express their creativity.
"Whenever I visit her classroom, her students are always engaged," Crestview High Principal Bob Jones said. "She teaches the hands-on stuff. She also teaches an AP class. It's a high-level class with a lot of rigor, and she does an outstanding job with all of it."
Breaux's stature among her students as an accomplished artist benefits her teaching abilities, Jones said.
"She has expertise as an artist," he said. "Students recognize that, and they recognize she knows what she's doing because she can do it herself."
Breaux is well known and liked by her peers on the Crestview High faculty — who nominated her the school’s teacher of the year — and her student advocacy is renowned, Jones said.
"To have a teacher in the fine arts selected as teacher of the year is unusual," Jones said. "People always think about core category teachers, but this says a lot about the importance of the arts in the education of our students."
However, the announcement didn’t surprise former students.
Jasmine Maughon, who graduated with the class of 2012 and studies at Northwest Florida State College, credited Breaux for preparing her for college-level art courses.
"She was really good at pushing us to do things we didn't know we could do," Maughon said. "I'd be so frustrated and I'd say, 'Please tell me what to do,' and she’d say, ‘OK, do this...’
"She is extremely into art and into her students," 2012 Crestview High graduate J.C. Williams said. "That vibe just radiated to her students who were really into art, and she helped us so much."
Breaux is currently on leave, having delivered her first child, but will return to see students through the end of the semester, Jones said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.