DIG Dr. Martin Rayala Grant Awards  |  2019-2020

DIG is thrilled to announce the 2019-2020 Dr. Martin Rayala Grant Grantees! 

The DIG Grant Initiative was created in honor of the outstanding work of Dr. Rayala, the co-founder of our interest group. 

In recognition of these dedicated art and design educators, Sue and Andrew are ready to share how they have developed, implemented, and documented their design-thinking challenges. 

Sue and Andrew documented: 
1) insightful reflections on the integration of their design-thinking challenges; 
2) instructional best practice methods that led to postive impact on student learning, the DIG Community, as well as within NAEA members at large; and
3) the alignment of challenge objectives and learning targets with the National Visual Arts Standards. 

DIG Grantee, Susan Cowles 
Sue Cowles-Dumitru is an art and design teacher at Westlake Middle School in Westchester County NY.
Sue has a background in design, fine arts, and photography/holography. She was awarded the Shearwater Prize for fine art holography and was an artist pioneer in the medium. Susan exhibits her work nationally and internationally and teaches children about art and design. In addition, Susan is the Coordinator of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program at her school where she works as a teacher and coach. Ms. Cowles-Dumitru’s education in the UK includes a Foundation Art Certificate; B.A. (Hons) in Three Dimensional Design; M.A. from the Royal College of Art in London; and an Ed.D. from the Teachers College at Columbia University.

Problem Set  |  Sustainable House in a Jiffy
Middle school students were challenged to work in small teams to research how to design temporary housing that addresses human needs in a natural disaster that may be created by nature or man-made. In these instances, permanent housing or one's permanent home may have been destroyed or totally lost. Students also researched new understanding of how this type of housing could be designed to be sustainable and healthy.

DIG Grantee, Andrew Bencsko
Andrew Bencsko has been an art and design educator at the High School of Art and Design, a New York City Career and Technical Education (CTE) commercial arts school, for the past eleven years.
After receiving his master’s at the School of Visual Arts, he taught a graduate course on the integration of Technology in K-12 Art Education for seven years. Andrew has been a painter for 30 years; worked in the design industry for over 13 years; and was honored with the United Federation of Teachers’ CTE Teacher of the Year Award in 2013. Bencsko co-facilitated NAEA’s Summer Studio Design Thinking Institute in 2018; served as a team member of a Design Thinking Action Research project. Mr. Bencsko has a B.F.A. in Illustration and M.A. in Art Teacher Education from the School of Visual Arts.

Problem Set  |  Recipes for Celebrating Cultural Diversity
High school students were faced with the challenge of developing a brand that celebrates cultural diversity through an online food subscription. People who order meals will learn about other cultures by following the recipe for a traditional dish. Students designed the packaging of the food, problem-solved how the ingredients will be contained, the layout of the recipe, along with insights into the meal's cultural origin.