Columbia High School Art Teacher Named NJ State Teen Arts Festival Art Educator of the Year


Alexandra Cappucci wins statewide honor

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MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – A transformational educator who has doubled the number of Columbia High School (CHS) students taking high-level studio arts classes while producing groundbreaking student art exhibitions has now been recognized as Art Educator of the Year by the state’s leading arts education organization.

Alexandra Cappucci, who is in her third year as a CHS teacher, has received notification that she has been named the N.J. State Teen Arts Festival’s Art Educator of the Year.

“This award is presented to a New Jersey arts educator whose work and dedication to arts education has transformed a New Jersey school or school district,” said Marisell Martely-Thomas, Managing Director of the N.J. State Teen Arts Festival.

“Ms. Cappucci has transformed the AP (Advanced Placement) Studio Art program at Columbia High School,”  said James A. Manno, District Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts, in his nomination of Cappucci. “She executed a laser-focused recruiting effort two years ago that doubled the number of students enrolled in AP Studio Art classes, and those numbers have been maintained.”

Manno added that Cappucci recently collaborated with local community arts leaders to produce the very first month-long showcase of AP student work at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC). SOPAC officials verified that the showcase’s opening night was their largest art exhibition event ever, Manno said.

Alexandra Cappucci

Cappucci was also the AP Drawing teacher of CHS alumna Bonney Donachie, who earned a perfect score on the AP exam.

“I know that the key to all this success has been the community that has supported me. The professors I had in college who trained me, the amazing teachers who have mentored me throughout my career, and the dedication of parents and guardians to the success of their students, and the students themselves,” said Cappucci, a New Jersey native who began her teaching career in Indiana and worked in Bayonne before coming to CHS two years ago. “The ultimate goal of my career is to provide the same supportive community to my students. This is my calling, and I am looking forward to continuing my teaching career.”

Dr. Kevin F. Gilbert, Acting Superintendent of the South Orange and Maplewood District, said he was very proud of Cappucci’s achievement.

“Ms. Cappucci has been the consummate educator who shares her passion for the arts with her students and draws out of them their very best abilities,” Gilbert said. “I want to congratulate her on this tremendous recognition, which brings so much pride to our high school and our school district. We wish her all the best as she continues her teaching career.”

Alexandra Cappucci and students

Cappucci will be honored during a ceremony on Wednesday, June 5th at 12:00 p.m. during the 2024 New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival at Middlesex College in Edison, N.J.

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