Gwinnett's teacher of the year offers up gift ideas

Subbing for Aimee Burgamy, Gwinnett County's Teacher of the Year, is always a big treat. I hardly feel like I'm working. Her lesson plans are thorough, I always learn a lot, have fun and come home with something new to think about. But then, that's all in her plans.

"The goal of teaching art in the public schools is not to create future artists, but to challenge students intellectually," Burgamy said. "Modeling critical thinking and an awareness of my cultural background and its connection to my world view, I believe I help students reflect more meaningfully on their own thinking."

I asked her if she could suggest, from her personal reflections, stimulating art-related Christmas gifts for children. Here's what she recommends:

· Treasures Fit for Kings Combo Tickets. I first saw King Tut in 1976 and it inspired me to study art history in college. I was thrilled to hear this new exhibition would visit Atlanta; doubly thrilled to hear that China's Terracotta Army would be offered at the High during the same time. These are two-not-to-be-missed exhibitions.

· Hudgens Center for the Arts. I have taken clay classes at the Hudgens and taught raku pottery workshops to my art club there, too. They even have little pottery wheels for kids (how awesome!). And right now the museum is offering free admission until 2009, so do not miss the African Art Show - bring a sketchbook and prepare to be inspired.

· Callanwolde Fine Arts Center (In Druid Hills area). I used to work at Callanwolde so I have a little bias for this special place. If you are looking for unique arts opportunities like stained glass and jewelry making, this is the place.

· Glass Room at Daven's Ceramic Center (just inside the Perimeter). My art club does a glass class here each year and it's great.

· Pinckneyville Park Community Recreation Center. Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation was named the top park System in America in 2008. Pinckneyville is the best spot for the arts. They offer clay classes, writing, acting, martial arts, and dance.

· Kickwheel Pottery's Elements Clay Studio & Gallery Inc. (Tucker). This ceramic supply house offers great classes. I collect work by potters from this studio known as the "Mudd Buddies."

· Art Books and Toys: If you are looking for children's art books or an unusual educational gift this art education catalog - www.crizmac.com - run by retired art teachers is tops in my book.

Thanks, Aimee. If I ever need a substitute columnist, I'm going to call you.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.