In memoriam: Angela Paterakis

Art educator, advocate, innovator

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Angela G. Paterakis, a River Forest resident for over 50 years and an instructor at the Art Institute, died on May 19, 2013. She was a consummate mentor who established a network of arts educators to serve generations of Illinois school children.

Through her professional teaching and public advocacy, she worked for over 60 years to make sure all Illinois schools had access to all of the arts.

Ms. Paterakis earned her bachelor's degree in art education in 1954 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

She taught upper elementary art for two years in Oak Park, where she developed the state's first photography program for junior high students.

Her work pioneered the unification of visual arts instruction within existing home and industrial arts curricula.

She earned her master's degree in art education from the University of Illinois Champaign in 1956, then began an illustrious career at the Art Institute, shaping the classrooms of thousands of fellow teachers across the state.

Highlights of her career at SAIC include chairing various departments, serving as secretary of the Faculty Senate, and active membership on budget, policy and curriculum committees for over 40 years. She was professor emerita in arts education at SAIC.

Her keystone course was the History and Philosophy of Art Education, in which she helped young teachers gain the tools for advocacy and service. Supervising student teachers, she became the person to see as one began an art education career in Illinois.

Recognized for placing students in schools where they would blossom as future teachers, her warmth and professionalism made her desk the first phone call a principal would make when looking for an art teacher. Educators across the state acknowledged her as a matriarch of arts education.

She pursued advanced studies at Chicago's Rush Medical University in 1984 to earn a graduate certification in art therapy, then actively lobbied local and state officials to open opportunities for special education students.

Beyond the classroom, she founded and led numerous public policy organizations. She was a board member and president of the Illinois Alliance for Art Education (IAAE), president of the Illinois Arts Education Association (IAEA), and western regional director for higher education with the National Arts Education Association. She also served as a consultant and specialist to local, regional and national arts organizations.

She worked with the Illinois State Board of Education to revamp arts certification for teachers, state curriculum standards for students, and arts resources for schools. These accomplishments were recognized with Outstanding Leadership awards from both the IAAE and IAEA.

She founded the Basic Art Support In the Classroom (BASIC) program in 1983 at the Art Institute to provide resources and assistance to classroom art educators throughout the Chicago region. BASIC workshops at SAIC provided thousands of teachers with access to national and international experts, as well as opening the collections to countless students who participated in field trips.

In 1972, Ms Paterakis wrote Art Education: Senior High School, a seminal text, published in seven editions. Angela wrote and narrated Development Stages for Children in the Visual Arts in 1973, a teaching guide for the Illinois State Board of Education used to improve instruction across the state.

She continued to teach well into retirement and became involved in the creation of Chicago's new National Hellenic Museum, serving as a founding board member and recognized in 2012 as a Lifetime Trustee of the new museum located in Chicago's Greek Town neighborhood.

Angela Paterakis is survived by her husband, George Parry; her sister, Zoe Pallas; her nieces Elaine Paterakis and Christine Wishart; and her nephew, Paul Paterakis.

She was considered a mother, grandmother and dear friend to Marina and Thomas Demos and their children Theodore and Chrissa, Lesley and John Coussis and their daughter Nina, and Margaret and Neil Koreman and their daughters Julia and Olivia.

- Paul Zimbrakos

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Janet Paszkowski  

Posted: August 2nd, 2015 11:06 PM

I feel very blessed to have once been a student of Angela Paterakis, my art education mentor, while pursuing my degree in art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I lost touch with her career activities after I moved to Georgia, but often thought about her, when I would find myself in a new teaching position, because she had truly given me enough confidence to lead a class full of students that has lasted a lifetime.

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