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The student news site of Frank W. Cox High School

Falcon Press News

The student news site of Frank W. Cox High School

Falcon Press News

The student news site of Frank W. Cox High School

Falcon Press News

Mrs. “Fun” soars to victory, Teacher of the Year

Distinguished teachers also named during the ceremony.
PRINCIPAL DR. KELLY congratulates the 2024-2025 Distinguished teachers as well as the Teacher of the Year (TOY) recipient. (Left to right) Mrs. Torrence, Mrs. Tonelson, Mrs. Ludford, and Dr. Fratrik earned the Distinguished Teacher award and Mrs. Van Veenhuyzen (third to the left) won TOY. (Advisor)

Art teacher Mrs. Van Veenhuyzen was recently named Teacher of the Year (TOY) for the 2024-2025 school year. Van Veenhuyzen teaches Core and Advanced Art I, II, and III, as well as running the National Art Honor Society and an acting sponsor for the junior class.

Along with Teacher of the Year, a few teachers who were also nominated for TOY but did not quite make the cut are considered as “Distinguished” because they, too, were nominated for the prestigious award. Becoming a distinguished teacher is also significant in a teacher’s career and shows respect from peers and colleagues.

Distinguished teachers for the 2024-2025 school year include: Library Media Specialist and Assistant Student Activities Coordinator Mrs. Ludford, English 12, Journalism I, II, and III teacher and soccer/field hockey coach Ms. Tonelson, Falcon Rock Band Sponsor and co-sponsor of the Rho Kappa National Honor Society Ms. Torrence, along with math teacher and Yearbook sponsor Dr. Fratrick.


Q: What activities/clubs are you involved with?

A: “I am the junior class sponsor along with my BFF, Mrs. Nardelli. I also run the National Art Honor Society and developed a mental health group called “Falcon to Falcon. It’s a group on Canvas that provides different mental health resources such as videos, podcasts, etc.”

Q: What was your reaction when you were named “Teacher of the Year”?

A: “Well, I was selected from a group of stellar educators, so I was pretty shocked! Ms. Tonelson, Ms. Torrence, Dr. Fratrik, and Mrs. Ludford are amazing educators and friends to me. I’m glad we all got recognized for our hard work.”

Q: How would you describe your teaching style?

A: “Gosh, ya know, high school was really tough for me, so in a way I can remember those times and I guess I just try to be relatable. I respect kids that respect me. I know in high school I wanted to be treated like an adult, but to be treated that way you have to act like one. I really love art and it’s important that my students know ANYONE can make art. It’s like learning a language, except art is a universal language; something anyone can learn if you put in the effort. A great teacher to me is someone who loves their subject and finds a way to make you love it too. ”

Q: What made you want to start teaching/ what is most rewarding about being a teacher?

A: “When I was in High School the art room was my safe place. It was a place where I thrived; I was in an unstable environment and I moved around a lot and it was hard making new friends knowing I would be leaving again. It was also hard catching up on core subjects because each school I attended would do things different, but I excelled at art and could always hold my own. I am mostly proud that my own classroom, rm 100, has become a safe space for so many kids. Kids that don’t even take my class! We’ve set a precedent in rm 100; it’s a positive space where all are welcome, but you have to act right! I’m proud of our little community; we aren’t just learning about art, but how to be good humans. Seeing my kids thrive is the greatest reward.”

Q: What would you be doing if you were not a teacher?

A: “I would be miserable! Teaching is definitely my purpose. But if it weren’t an option I would like to just hop in my RV and learn from my adventures.”

Q: What did you do before teaching/ how long have you been teaching?

A: “I was an interior designer before I started teaching. I also was/ still am a makeup artist. I’ve been teaching for 11 years now.”

Q: How do you engage your students?

A: “I used to be just a bit bitter about my traumatic experiences as a kid. But now I am so grateful for those experiences. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without learning to be resilient.  I suppose those experiences have helped me develop a teaching “style”. I try to teach art as a therapy; I engage my students by showing them the mental and emotional benefits of art. I also love teaching students how to “read” art. Art isn’t just about knowing how to paint or draw well, but how it makes you feel. What is it saying? Like I said, art is a universal language; it captures the earliest parts of our history without the use of words; it can be used as a grassroots movement to shine awareness on things that matter. Art is a part of every culture, so anyone can relate to it. I really try to introduce a variety of artists and cultures to ensure my students feel represented and understood. ”

Q: What is something unique about you that your students might not know/ what are you passionate about?

A: “I’m pretty much an open book so there’s not much about me that my kids don’t know already. I’m passionate about learning. It’s almost a problem! I just get fixated on a certain subject or hobby and just let it take over my life! I want to live for a thousand years just to learn as much as I can. I am the definition of “A jack of all trades but a master at none”. Except Math. I can’t do math.”

Q: Any advice that you can give to aspiring artists at CHS or as a whole?

A: “As a whole; follow your arrow. What do you enjoy? What are you good at? Don’t let pessimists tell you that you can’t. You can. You will succeed at anything as long as you stay humble, grateful, and kind. ”

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About the Contributor
Samantha Radford, Editor-in-Chief
Junior Journalism III Student | Anchor Channel 4 Falcon News Historian and Social Media Manager Class of 2025  

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