Falmouth teacher Jane Baker Wasabi Fenway Bowl Honor Roll semifinalist

For Falmouth High School teacher Jane Baker, teaching art isn’t just about having kids in the classroom paint on canvas or sketch with charcoal on drawing paper.

“In my program, we do field trips and the kids can get out of the classroom and go out into the community and learn,” said Baker, who has been teaching for about 20 years. “We go to different science labs and historic parts of the city and draw things based on the experience.”

Her peers have recognized her for her innovative approach to art education. Baker was named one of the semifinalists for the fourth annual Wasabi Fenway Bowl Honor Roll this year.

The honor roll recognizes New England educators for their dedication to students and their communities. Thirty New England educators were featured this year, according to a Dec. 11 announcement. The finalists were selected from over 300 submissions.

On the Honor Roll website, all selected teachers are featured on mock baseball cards featuring their photos, with teaching information on the back. Baker’s information reads: “Jane Baker not only brings together experts in many different disciplines (scholars, historians, writers, and community advocates) to help her students understand the ways in which life and our surroundings can inspire art, she takes her students out of the classroom and into the environment for full sensory immersion.”

The semi-finalists each received a $400 grant to support their classroom and school.

Baker, director and adviser of the National Art Honor Society, teaches drawing and painting to students in grades 9-12.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a semifinalist,” Baker said. “There’s not a lot of recognition for teachers and so it’s nice to have recognitions like this where teachers are applauded because it doesn’t happen very often.”

As a visual arts teacher, Baker not only focuses on the materials and processes of art, but also on giving his students an arts education that they can apply to their future endeavors beyond Falmouth High School.

Baker, who was born in Falmouth and attended Falmouth High, takes an innovative approach to her teaching. The students’ work isn’t just about class, she said. She encourages them to do different things that can be memorable for them as well as build valuable artistic skills.

“It’s great to see the kids grow in the process and then in their senior year they make these great pieces of art,” Baker said. “Not everyone necessarily goes to art school, but it’s a skill they can use in their lives, a coping mechanism they can refer to for the rest of their lives.”

Baker has been interested in art since early childhood. Her grandmother was an artist, and Baker’s earliest memories are of painting with her.

Also a professional printer, Baker graduated with a degree in art from Smith College in Northampton. While studying at Smith, she decided to be an art teacher and went to the Massachusetts College of Art and received her MFA.

Baker has been honored for her skills before. In 2015, the Cape Cod Arts Foundation named her the Cape and Islands Art Educator of the Year.

Baker also designed the Falmouth Road Race poster this year.

Grants received by teachers are provided by Wasabi Fenway Bowl in partnership with Extra Yard for Teachers, Samuel Adams, Amica Mutual Insurance, Moderna and Meet Boston and can be redeemed at DonorsChoose.org to help purchase classroom equipment and materials.

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