Christina Lukac MA ’17 has been named the 2019 Pennsylvania Art Education Association Outstanding Special Needs Art Educator.

Lukac, an art teacher in the Autism Support and Life Skills classroom at Olney Charter High School in Philadelphia, was nominated by 2018 PAEA and 2019 National Art Education Association honoree Karen Rosenburg MA ’16.

“It definitely gives me a little pep in my step to start the year and it gives me a chance to continue to do new things with my students and continue to push them to their fullest potential,” she said. “I’m so grateful that I was thought of, it’s wonderful. There are so many people here that are so supportive. I have a wonderful assistant who helps me every day, and the teachers I work with are extremely helpful.”

Lukac, who earned her BFA from Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University, learned about Moore’s MA in Art Education with an Emphasis in Special Populations program when she brought her art students from SpArc Philadelphia to work with Moore’s graduate students.

“The program gave me the chance to explore more of the population I’d already been working with for so long, and the chance to continue my education,” she said. Lukac received the 2016 Croy West Memorial Art Education Scholarship, given to a candidate who has a love for children and the discipline of art. The scholarship was created by Debi West ’92 in memory of her son, Croy, who passed away in 2008.

For as long as she can remember, Lukac said she wanted to be a teacher.

“I would set up my stuffed animals when I was little and play teacher, and I roped my little brother into it,” she said. “My brother has autism, so I’ve always been very used to being around all types of individuals throughout my life, so it was very comfortable for me to get into this field.”

This fall will mark Lukac’s third year at Olney Charter. Along with a colleague, she runs the Friendship Club, where her students play games and watch movies with the main student population. She also organizes a spring prom for the 65 students in her program.

Lukac will receive the PAEA award at the PAEA conference November 2 in State College, PA. Lukac is now eligible for next year's NAEA award.