On August 22 Douglas High School Art Instructor Richard Paun was named the rural teacher of the year for Cochise County.
“It was a great honor and hard to accept because I work with so many great teachers,” Paun said of his award.
Paun has served as the department chair for the Fine Arts Department, is the junior class sponsor and an Art Club Sponsor.
An important activity he is involved in is called Art Awakenings, where students with behavioral health issues attend school art therapy sessions as a means of healing.
“What I am currently working on is providing art therapy activities to individuals who may have behavioral health issues. The mission of the program is to enhance and empower the behavioral health community through creativity, innovation, recovery and diversity,” Paun said. “Although I cannot take credit for bringing this program to our community, I am committed to the success of the program, in the hopes that it may be available to those students in need for years to come.”
The Arizona Rural Schools Teacher of the Year Program accepts nominations from all member schools districts and County Education Services Agencies.
“DHS and DUSD are fortunate to have a teacher like Richard Paun,” DUSD Superintendent Sheila Rogers said. “He always goes above and beyond in anything he does. Being the Cochise County Rural Teacher of the Year is an honor that he truly deserves. DUSD is very proud”
ARSA supports the integrity of rural school districts and honor the educators who represent the best the state has to offer. ARSA is a state affiliate to the National Rural Education Association and promotes quality education for all students in rural schools throughout the state.
“I think it really points to the quality of the teachers we have here,” DHS Principal Andrea Overman said. “I think it’s so good that we have a group that recognizes rural schools because we often get lost in the shuffle of bigger schools.”
Paun teaches drawing, painting and ceramics in his art classes. He wants all of his students to enjoy the classes while learning the importance of art and how to expresses themselves in it.
“I think Mr. Paun is a great teacher. He teaches and motivates us,” said senior Karina Palomeros. “He doesn’t just show us concepts in art but we also learn to view the world differently.”
Paun will be attending the Annual Rural Schools Conference in Flagstaff September 19-21. All state county winners will be recognized with a plaque, $100, and one will be chosen to represent ARSA as the Arizona Rural Teacher of the Year.
The teacher selected will receive a $1000 and a trip to the NREA Convention where they will represent Arizona.