South Lakes High Art Teacher Named 2021 Southeastern Region Secondary Art Educator

News Release
January 29, 2021


Matt RavenstahlMatt Ravenstahl, who teaches art at South Lakes High School, has been named the 2021 Southeastern Region Secondary Art Educator by the National Art Education Association (NAEA). Ravenstahl will receive his award at the virtual 2021 NAEA conference in the spring.

Ravenstahl, who serves as Fine Arts Department chair at South Lakes, has taught at the school since 1994.  He teaches Visual Arts and Theory of Knowledge as part of the school’s International Baccalaureate diploma and middle years program and has taught beginning and advanced painting and drawing at the FCPS Summer Institute for the Arts since 2009.

In nominating him for the award, five art department colleagues said this about Ravenstahl, “Dr. Ravenstahl is passionate about teaching because he is the quintessential lifelong learner. He achieved his MFA and 10 years later, his doctorate, all while teaching full time. The theories that he explored in his dissertation have directly and positively impacted his approach to student learning…Whether it’s finding ways special education students can innovate, or by incorporating visual art into Theory of Knowledge (an academic philosophy class), the results are often surprising and always positive.”

Art resource teacher Susan Silva adds, “He personifies the artist teacher researcher…The perfect combination of passion, energy, and rebellion all to benefit the students. His reach starts at South Lakes High School and easily stretches throughout the county and beyond…His students come out of his class with an ability to think deeply and use their analytical skills to problem solve. He challenges the students to be the artists and thinkers they are meant to be.” 

“Matt is so approachable that students feel a deep comfort in his class and therefore feel empowered and safe to take risks with their artwork,” says South Lakes High Systems of Support advisor Christine Kelley. “In addition to being a skilled art teacher, Matt Ravenstahl excels at creating a safe classroom for all students. His ability to connect with students transcends art. Matt pays attention to his students. He knows each one so well that he can detect when a student is not doing well. Students often feel comfortable sharing information with him and then Matt is adept at finding the resources in our school that are available to the student. He follows up to make sure his students’ needs have been addressed. Matt is more than a teacher of art, he is a teacher of students.”

Ravenstahl has also taught at the college level and works with the International Baccalaureate Organization as well as serving on the FCPS Advanced Academics Board, designing and providing training for teachers. Ravenstahl has also been a frequent presenter on art education at national and international art education conferences.

In 2019, he was named Virginia Art Educator of the Year by the Virginia Art Education Association and in 2018, was recognized as the Secondary Educator of the Year by the Fairfax County Special Education Parent Teacher Association. He was also recognized in 2002 by the International Sculpture Center as Outstanding K-12 Sculpture Teacher.

Ravenstahl graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture and bachelor of science in art education. He earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Maryland and a doctorate in education from the University of Durham (United Kingdom).


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For more information, contact Matt Ravenstahl at mjravenstahl@fcps.edu