Karen Rosenburg MA '16 has been named the Pennsylvania Art Education Association 2018 Outstanding Special Needs Art Educator.
Rosenburg, a teacher of visual arts and ceramics at New Hope-Solebury High School in New Hope, Pa., was nominated by Moore's Director of Art Education Lauren Stichter.
"During her time as an artist and instructor, she has reached thousands of children, and has always had a particular interest in working with children and young adults who have special needs," Stichter said.
Rosenburg has done work at the Devereux Foundation, a residential treatment facility for males with emotional, behavioral, and cognitive differences, consulting work in special needs in art education for Philadelphia Museum of Art, and she has created The Hope & Sole Café, a coffee shop run by autism support students at her school. She will receive the award at the PAEA Conference in Harrisburg October 6.
Below is a story we wrote about Rosenburg in June 2017.
Belly rubs and wet-nose kisses are a beloved part of the day in Karen Rosenburg’s Fine Arts class. Pax, her son’s service dog, comes with her to New Hope-Solebury High School.
“I brought him because I thought the kids would love him and it would really create a sense of acceptance and homeyness in my classroom and make the kids really excited to come to art class,” she said.
And Rosenburg, a 2016 grad of Moore’s Masters in Art Education With an Emphasis in Special Populations program, discovered that the chocolate Labrador retriever brought much more to the classroom, and inspired her master’s thesis.
Pax came into Rosenburg’s family as a service dog for her son Marcus, who has autism. Marcus is a triplet, and has a brother, Owen, and a sister, Nora.
“When my son goes to school, he doesn’t feel he needs to take his service dog with him, so I started bringing Pax to school with me,” she said. “I did that for about a year, and I decided to get my master’s degree, and I wanted to do a research project based on having him in the class.”
WARM AND FUZZY
She noticed that the beautiful brown dog with friendly eyes created a warm and fuzzy atmosphere for all of her students.
"The best part about Pax is that my special needs kids that come to my classroom, they all love him and it becomes a topic they are becoming comfortable talking about,” she said. “The other kids in my class will freely talk about Pax and that leads into other conversation – ‘So, do you have pets at home?’ ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ ‘I like your artwork, what are you drawing?’ It really opened up the connection between these students that have communication needs and the regular students in class.”
Pax, whom she calls a 'chocolate love bug,' is a big part of Rosenburg's art lessons.
"I try to tie Pax into at least one lesson in each class I teach," she said, including having him pose while students do timed contour line drawings of him. "Pax will stay until I ask him to move, and so I'll give students a few minutes to draw Pax in different poses."
SNIFFING OUT A THESIS
Rosenburg’s use of Pax as a therapy dog in her classroom helped her sniff out a thesis topic. She presented her work, titled “Using Animal Assisted Therapy with Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Art Room Setting,” at the annual VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference in Austin, Texas, August 6 - 7, 2017. The case study focused on gaining an understanding of how a therapy dog could help with inclusion, socialization and choice within students' artwork.
Rosenburg also presented the proposal at the 1st International Conference on Disability Studies, Art, and Education at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, in September 2017, the 2017 Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators, and most recently at the Council for Exceptional Children Convention 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Rosenburg thinks her research is pricking up the ears of her colleagues and peers at Moore.
“One classmate went from no dogs to three dogs with the hopes of training one to be a therapy dog,” she said. “Another classmate, who already had a dog, is now training her dog to be a therapy dog. One of my instructors told me after seeing my presentation, ‘Now I want a dog,’ and she got one a few months ago. And an art teacher that I work with is considering getting a dog that he can bring to work with him.”
Rosenburg said Moore’s art education graduate program was the perfect choice for her.
“I started bringing the dog to school with me, then I got a Moore postcard in the mail," said Rosenburg, who'd been interested in art for special education students. "I have a child with special needs, and when I saw this program, it was exactly what I'd been looking for."
Rosenburg said choosing Moore for grad school was one of the best professional decisions she’s ever made, and getting Pax was another.
“He is a great dog,” she said, describing him as 'friendly, silly, goofy, sweet, sensitive, caring and lovable.' “I couldn’t have asked for a better dog.”
Read more about Rosenburg here.