Eryn Blaser says she likes to watch children’s eyes light up when they create art.

She also likes to lighten up the load for others, sometimes donating her own work to benefit breast cancer research.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Illinois Art Education Association has named Blaser the 2013 Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year, according to a press release from the association.

Blaser, of Joliet, is in her seventh year of teaching at Meadow Ridge School in Orland Park.

The award, which annually recognizes the exemplary contributions, service and achievements of an association member, is to be presented at the association conference Oct. 25 in Lisle, the release said.

Blaser plays an active role in curriculum development in Orland School District 135 and recently wrote a technology proposal to equip her art program with iPads, according to the association.

“Eryn is a very honest, genuine and generous person,” fellow art teacher Nancy Heuser said in the release. “She is always willing to go above and beyond to help students and staff. I have truly never met a more dedicated and wonderful person and educator.”

Blaser also is heavily involved in the Orland Park community, showcasing student work outside the school and leading art workshops for children at community events, the release said. She also is a member of the IAEA board and many committees, according to the association.

Blaser is a practicing artist, too, working as a printmaker, painter and mixed media artist and showcasing her work throughout Illinois, the release said. She has donated her work to auction on multiple occasions, with proceeds benefiting breast cancer research, it said.

“I was so humbled by just being nominated for the award, let alone being chosen the Elementary Art Educator of the Year,” Blaser said in the release. “I found myself looking back to when I first started teaching art and why I chose this path.

“I enjoy the process of creating and teaching others about the history, tools and steps it takes to create a work of art. I love seeing how others take that information to come up with an idea and for their own personal masterpiece. So far, teaching art has been an amazing journey. Watching children’s eyes light up when they are feeling confident and proud of something they make, or when a family comes to the art show at the library and is excited to see their child’s work on display, or the spills of black ink all over the art room floor. ... This is the excitement of exploration and finding oneself.”

The IAEA is an association of the art educators of Illinois, the release said. The organization is more than 75 years old.

Staff report