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'Tireless' teacher lauded for efforts in art education


When it comes to art in Howard County, those who can do, teach.

It is one of the principles that Barry Shauck emphasizes.

"I think it's really important to be exposed to people who are practicing," said Mr. Shauck, who supervises the county's 75 art teachers. They "can show the creative . . . and decision-making process."

During Mr. Shauck's six-year tenure, the number of art teachers in Howard has more than doubled. The expansion is due to the county's growth as well as Mr. Shauck's leadership and political skill, associates say.

At the same time, he has expanded the number of student art exhibits to nearly one a month.

The National Art Education Association recently gave Mr. Shauck its annual Supervision and Administration Award for the eastern region, which extends from Maryland to Maine.

Mr. Shauck will travel to Chicago in early April to pick up the $100 award at the association's national convention. The association, based in Reston, Va., has 32,000 members worldwide.

People who work with Mr. Shauck were pleased to see him win recognition.

"Isn't it wonderful?" said Joan Gaither, who teaches art at Centennial High School.

They also can't seem to say enough nice things about him.

"Barry is just a tireless worker for the arts," said his boss, Bill Sowders, the county's coordinator of fine arts and social studies. "He is so unselfish. I don't think I would have found out about this award if it hadn't come across my desk."

"Because of him I decided to study art education in college," said Tolly Rumbaugh, 28, a former student who now teaches under Mr. Shauck at Oakland Mills Middle School.

Teachers say Mr. Shauck approaches art academically, while encouraging teachers and students to take chances. When Ms. Rumbaugh studied print-making with him at Towson High School, he illustrated his points with classical examples -- Michelangelo for realism and Leonardo da Vinci for structure.

Ms. Gaither says he helped her shepherd through an art and society course that examines similar art from different cultures. In the course, Ms. Gaither asks students to compare ancient Greek vases with contemporary shopping bags, asking the question: is a shopping bag art?

"He's just allowed me to fly," Ms. Gaither said.

In addition to his duties in Howard County, Mr. Shauck also serves with a host of organizations. He is the past president of the Maryland Art Education Association. He also directs a weekend art program for elementary and secondary school students at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he teaches a couple of college courses too.

In addition, he serves on an advisory board of the National Gallery in Washington and is chairman of the scholarship committee of the Maryland Artist Equity Foundation. Through his connections and the many art exhibits, his teachers and students have had far greater opportunities to learn and show their work.

"The one thing he's really done for Howard County is give us higher visibility," Ms. Gaither said.

Mr. Shauck got his start when he was about 12 years old and sick at home for two weeks with the chicken pox or the measles -- he can't remember which. He was driving his mother crazy, so she invited over his Aunt Thelma to entertain him.

His aunt, a substitute art teacher, taught him to paint with oils. His first painting was of a barn.

"That was really the seed," he said.

Mr. Shauck, 42, lives in Harford County with his wife, Stephanie, a librarian, and their daughter, Rachel, who is in the eighth grade. With the 84-mile round trip to Howard County and his various responsibilities, he has trouble finding time to practice his art these days but says, "I try to carry a sketch book with me."

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