Jessica D. Soifer is an Arts Educator at Knoles Elementary in Flagstaff. She has received much praise from her peers in the community. In 2015 she was named by the Arizona Art Education Association (AAEA) as the state’s Outstanding Elementary Art Educator, and as the Art Educator of the year. Educators who work closely with Soifer also recognize the contributions she has made in the classroom. Pamela Stephens, from the Art Education department at NAU has worked with Soifer for many years and even uses Soifer’s classroom as an example for current art education students at NAU. Stephens provides these two statements from other educators in the community who are familiar with Soifer’s accomplishments.
Lisa Hatch, Knoles Elementary principal wrote the following:
Jessica Soifer is a teacher that inspires her students to think independently and creatively. She has a unique ability to connect with students in such a way that every student realizes their artistic talent and feels respected. Jessica works to promote life-long learning and stewardship that reaches far beyond the classroom setting. Jessica’s instruction is also rich in language learning. She integrates music to enhance spatial-temporal training, and her way of teaching math, science, and social studies through the arts sets students up for success. Most importantly, Jessica teaches life lessons–that help students succeed far beyond standardized tests.
Mary K. Walton, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for Flagstaff Unified School District, wrote:
When I reflect about elementary art instruction, I think about hands on learning, creativity, exploration, and exposure to all kinds of genre! Jessica provides all of this and more to her students. She believes that every student is an artist and supports the exploration of their talents. Jessica creates a positive learning environment where every student is able to be successful. She understands that these early years of exploration may set the stage for future commitment to art whether it be full-time artistry or past-time enthusiast.
Parents also praise Soifer for her work with students at Knoles Elementary. One parent speaks to the encouragement that her children have received from Soifer and how she has shaped their education and enthusiasm for the arts. In a letter of recommendation to the AAEA this parent writes:
My children have attended Knoles Elementary for two years, and while they love their respective classroom teachers, they look forward to going to Mrs. Soifer’s class each week. Through her encouragement and enthusiasm, both of my boys have developed a great love of art, and spend much of their time outside of class, drawing their own creations. She has exposed them to many different art mediums, and while every one might not be their favorite, they give each art project their best effort, because of her support. My older son is even considering a career in graphic design, thanks to Mrs. Soifer’s dedication and encouragement.
Soifer provides her students with an opportunity to thrive outside of the classroom as well. In the past, her students have been participants in the Youth Art Exhibition at the Coconino Center for the Arts. Every year, this exhibition gives students a chance to bring their art to a wider public audience, and display in a professional gallery setting. By providing her students with this opportunity, Soifer encourages them to look beyond the classroom and explore their talents in a variety of settings.