Blog Post

Maritz Partner Doug Erwin Named Arts Educator of the Year

March 08, 2016

“That moment when art changes a kids’ life, when they truly get it, it makes anything that it took to get there worthwhile. It may not happen often, but when it does, it’s great.” – Doug Erwin

Congratulations to Doug Erwin, the Ferguson-Florissant School District Fine Arts Coordinator, on being named the Arts Educator of the Year, a top honor given by the Arts and Education Council’s St. Louis Arts Awards. These awards recognize educators who are making a difference and keeping art alive in the St. Louis community. 

The Arts and Education Council, a Maritz philanthropic partner, sponsors the St. Louis Arts Awards each year. We were proud to nominate Doug, a 24-year veteran in the teaching profession, for consistently going above and beyond in demonstrating the importance of an arts education program and the positive effects it has on students, not only in furthering their academic achievements, but also in building critical thinking skills.

“I have seen art allow a kid to heal over the loss of a parent or sibling. I have seen art bring groups of kids together that would never socialize in real life, but all of a sudden they have that shared experience and they realize they are all the same,” Doug shared.

As Arts Educator of the Year, Doug was recognized for his outstanding efforts in developing programs and guiding students to be successful in the arts and in life. Specifically, Doug’s efforts include:

  • For the past four consecutive years, Doug has been awarded a Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers grant to help off-set expenses related to the school district’s annual high school musical. Participants in these musicals often receive valuable college scholarships. 
  • While at McCluer High School, Doug built the largest High School African American Theatre program in the State of Missouri. Under his leadership, the McCluer Thespian Troupe rose to the top two percent in the state.
  • McCluer theatre students have performed internationally and were recently selected to represent the United States at the “International Fringe Festival” in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Doug also works to unite the greater community through special projects, including: an “All District Musical” involving students from 23 schools; directing four school district choir participants in Ferguson’s Children: Our Voice concert in the wake of the Ferguson unrest; co-founding the “Fine Arts Regional Consortium” professional learning network; and acting as the District representative and sponsor to the “Student Summit on Race.”

Watch this video – produced by the Arts and Education Council – to see firsthand Doug’s passion for the arts and the impact he’s had on students, the Ferguson-Florissant School District and the St. Louis community.

“I was beyond honored to be nominated by Maritz for the St. Louis Arts Awards and to be named an educator of the year. However, I received a gift that was totally unexpected. Watching my former students share this news socially and comment on the impact that their time in theatre had on their current situation was profoundly moving. Most teachers are never shown the impact they have on the lives of their former students. I was given that gift and for that, I cannot thank you enough.”

**Photo courtesy of Suzy Gorman

Congratulations, Doug! Maritz is honored to support such an inspirational individual!

To read more about the award and Doug’s accomplishments that led to his receiving this award, click here.