Joe Cornett is a teacher of digital photography at Flagstaff High School, who has been noted for his excellence as an arts educator. Principal of Flagstaff High, Tony Cullen, praises Cornett for his ability to organize his classroom and lay out clear expectations and learning outcomes. He also recognizes Cornett’s great attitude towards students and fellow educators. Cullen states that “Each time I have asked him for additional help, he has gladly taken on the responsibility with character and integrity, leading and influencing others in a positive light.”
Cornett goes above and beyond excellence in the classroom. He also provides his students with opportunities to bring their work to the greater Flagstaff community. Every year, many of Cornett’s students participate in the Youth Art Exhibition at the Coconino Center for the Arts. This exhibition is the largest professional installment of youth art in Northern Arizona, and Cornett’s students are well represented every year. Their work often receives recognition during the juried competition at the beginning of the exhibition. In 2015, Cornett’s students also entered work in the Youth Lens photography competition. For this competition 145 student photographers submitted their work, and of those 26 were selected to show their work in the Youth Lens photography exhibition. Of the 26 selected, 25 of them were Cornett’s students. Jurors then selected photos for grand prize, first prize, second prize and honorable mention. All four of these prizes went to students from Cornett’s photography class.
Last year 18 of his students were selected to be in Photographer’s Forum Best of High School Photography Competition. This National competition is open to all high school students in the nation and the selected students from Cornett’s class were published in a book with all other top selections. Three of those 18 were selected to the top 100 and received honorable mention. The recognition gained by Cornett’s students is a testament to his success as a teacher and the skills learned in his classroom. However, perhaps even more important than the awards and prizes, is the experience of showing work in a variety of settings. Cornett’s students get to see their work displayed in professional galleries and exhibitions. They get to share their work with a wider community than just fellow students and teachers. It is this exposure that builds their confidence as artists and introduces them to a more professional artistic setting. Cornett shows a great deal of support for his students by providing them with these opportunities.
One of Cornett’s students won Best of Show in the Anne Kirkpatrick Governor’s Arts Award that is a statewide competition open to all art students. Of hundreds of submissions throughout the state, Jesse Stoney won Best of Show and her work will be shown in the Capital Building in Washington D.C. for the next year.
Lastly, every year Cornett takes his most advanced photographers to southern California to visit the Getty Museum and contemporary photography galleries. He thinks it’s imperative that his students view work in influential spaces, and have the opportunity to photograph in areas that are outside of Flagstaff.