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May 02, 2024

Cleveland Institute of Art honors Cleveland Metropolitan School District, out-of-state educators with Excellence in Teaching Awards

From left: Elizabeth Bortz, Cynthia Greene and Mygenet Harris.

CIA recognizes art educators for their meaningful contributions to teaching and inspiring the next generation of artists and designers


May 2, 2024

CLEVELAND—The Cleveland Institute of Art announces its third class of Excellence in Teaching Awards recipients. Two educators from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and one from Maryland will be honored—demonstrating the college of art and design’s local and national reach.

This year’s honorees are three exemplary art teachers: Elizabeth Bortz from Cleveland School of the Arts in Cleveland; Cynthia Greene from Cleveland School of Architecture and Design at John Hay in Cleveland; and Mygenet Harris from Albert Einstein High School Visual Arts Center in Kensington, Maryland.

“After considering art instructors from around the country, CIA identified these exemplars who consistently demonstrate commitment to learning situations that spark curiosity and enthusiasm in their students,” says James Malley, director of Admissions at CIA. “Their passion for top-level art education inspires both students and fellow teachers, enabling them to perform at their best. It is exciting when my team and I are able to interact with instructors like these, as it is clear they are making an impact in the lives of their students, and thus elevating the art community to a new level.”

Bortz received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature at Miami University and her Master of Education degree at Cleveland State University with a focus in Urban Education. She began teaching in 2009, and in 2016, she joined Cleveland School of the Arts—where she has served as Director of Creative Writing and currently teaches AP English to students majoring in all art forms. The intricacies of art, history and language as a means for understanding the human condition remain fundamental in her belief that the best learning comes from a compassionate classroom.

Greene was born in Brooklyn, New York to Hispanic immigrant parents. She was raised in Lorain, Ohio, where at a very young age, she discovered she had a talent for art and a knack for selling her drawings for a quarter. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Kent State University and a Master of Education degree from Baldwin Wallace University. She began her career in Cleveland, where she has taught art at every grade level for more than 25 years. She takes pride in her cultural heritage and strives to inspire her students to explore their own identities and diverse artistic expressions.

Harris is a versatile Ethio-African American artist-educator. She explores mediums such as painting, printmaking, fiber and sculpture, and she brings these practices in her classroom. Her visual imagery is inspired by her birth roots in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Her artistic journey flourished with her undergraduate in fiber and graduate degree in Master of Art Teaching at Maryland Institute College of Art. She has dedicated herself to teaching emerging young artists for 26 years. For the last 12 years, she has been co-coordinator and teacher for the MCPS Visual Art Center at Albert Einstein High School, where she fosters aspiring young artists' growth, artistic portfolio and career development.

The honorees will be recognized May 3 during CIA’s 2024 CIA Community Awards ceremony. Each will receive $500 and their name on a plaque on CIA’s campus.

Bortz, Greene and Harris join previous CIA Excellence in Teaching Award honorees: Sarah Curry at Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst; Dayna Hansen at Lakewood High School in Lakewood; Michelle Kane from Mentor High School in Mentor; Nancy Rich-Drehs from Heights High School in Cleveland Heights; Amber West from Olmsted Falls High School in Olmsted Falls; and Dan Whitely at Orange High School in Pepper Pike.

Educators who are considered for the Cleveland Institute of Art Excellence in Teaching Award are identified by CIA based on connections made throughout the recruitment cycle. Honorees are selected based on the outcomes of their students’ portfolios as well as their commitment to providing access and opportunities for students to show their work and consider the best art colleges in the country. Three recipients will be announced each year.

Cleveland Institute of Art
Michael C. Butz, Director of College Communications + External Relations / 216.421.7404

Cleveland Institute of Art
The Cleveland Institute of Art is a private, nonprofit college of art and design that has been the training ground for countless students who have gone on to make important contributions to the fields of creativity and innovation since it opened in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. Its students have designed internationally recognized products, their artwork has been exhibited in major museums and private collections around the world, and their entertainment media has been enjoyed by audiences and game players for generations. It enrolls about 600 students nationally and internationally and has a faculty of about 100 full-time and adjunct members, all of whom are practicing artists, designers and scholars.

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