HP Arts Doles Out Awards to Two Advocates, One Teacher

Dina Steele and Rebecca Beasley accept the "Arts Advocate" awards from HP Arts president Kathy Palter (left) and vice president Kay Braly. (Photo: Julie Smith)

HP Arts celebrated its 25th anniversary and announced the winners of its two annual awards at a meeting on April 8.

Highland Park High School social-studies teacher Anne Patterson won the “Arts in Education Teacher” award, given to a non-fine-arts teacher who has meaningfully incorporated the arts into their curriculum. Highland Park ISD parents Dina Steele and Rebecca Beasley were presented with the “Arts Advocate” award for their support of the arts and arts education in the community.

Highland Park High School’s elite coral group, Park Version, directed by Natalie Waters, began the celebration by singing “Happy Birthday” to HP Arts before performing “Build Me Up Buttercup.” Kathy Palter, HP Arts president, welcomed seven former HP Arts presidents including current Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees president Leslie Melson. Special guests included Shirley Kochman, last year’s “HP Arts Advocate” winner; HPISD spokeswoman Helen Williams; Gena Gardiner, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and special programs; and current HP Arts members.

Sarah Hardin, HP Arts programs chair, introduced Patterson, who teaches Advanced Placement human geography and U.S. history at Highland Park High School, where she uses the arts to deepen her students’ education experience.

“Receiving this year’s ‘Arts in Education Teacher’ award is a great honor,” Patterson said. “I am very grateful to HP Arts for their avid support of teachers who incorporate the arts within their curriculum.”

HP Arts vice president Kay Braly announced Steele and Beasley as the dual winners of the “Arts Advocate” award, in honor of their efforts in the schools and community to promote the arts and art education. The pair became friends through HP Arts years ago.

“One thing I love about working in the arts: I have met some of my favorite people and best friends — kindred spirits, I guess,” Steele said. Together they chaired the Linda Raya tribute event earlier this year to celebrate 40 years of service by the chairwoman of the HPISD Fine Arts Department. They worked in secret for two years and raised nearly $30,000 for a fine arts education endowment in Raya’s name.

Steele is a former HP Arts board member, current member of La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, and a former student of Raya’s. Steele has been a tireless volunteer as she supported her children, Rodman and Faye, in their fine-arts productions at the high school and the middle school.  She continues to be involved in community theater.

Beasley has served in many roles on the HP Arts board, the Choir Booster Club, and La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, where she is the current president. She also formed the Players and Jesters Booster Club at HPMS. As mom to Jennie, Patrick, and Sam, and stepmom to Sarah, Erin, and Claire, Beasley is a dedicated supporter of the arts.

To learn more about HP Arts and to donate online, visit hparts.org.

Editor’s note: This article was written by community contributor Susan Sommers.

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