EPI Teacher Coleen Bartley

Jamaican Art Teacher Leads Students to Soar in Aviation-Themed Contest

Posted on November 10, 2022 by EPI Admin

Artwork from student finalist

Coleen Bartley’s art instruction serves as a launchpad for the creative talents of her students. With her support, students earned recognition in an aviation-themed art competition that received more than a thousand entries.

Three of her students at Lillington-Shawtown Elementary School in Lillington, North Carolina, placed in the 2022 North Carolina Aviation Art Contest. One student was a finalist and the two others were semifinalists. 

Their success is all the more impressive given that the 2021-22 school year was Bartley’s first teaching at the elementary school. Originally from Jamaica, she came to the USA as a program member with Educational Partners International (EPI).

Artwork from student semifinalist

For 2022, the contest’s theme was “Design Your Perfect Aircraft.” Judges based their decisions on each artwork’s adherence to the theme, as well as the creativity and technical skill on display.

Organized and judged by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation, the contest divides entries into three categories based on age – junior, intermediate, and senior. The top 10 winners in each group are displayed at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. The North Carolina Airports Association sponsors the event.

The top three winners in each category are submitted to a national version of the competition, and national winners advance to an international competition. In North Carolina, this year’s entries – 1,322 in all – came from 133 schools, 165 hometowns, and 55 counties.

Artwork from second student semifinalist

The students’ accomplishment caused Bartley to reflect on her own time with the EPI program. She shared that she has seen great improvement, and she hopes to impact the lives of her students. 

“The EPI forums have helped a lot,” she noted, referring to the organization’s online message board. There, members share information on everything from housing and transportation to the best classroom practices and professional development.

As one might expect, other exchange teachers shared encouraging words on the platform upon hearing of the accomplishments of Bartley’s students.

“Awesome job,” wrote Doreen Brown, an EPI program member who, like Bartley, came from Jamaica to teach in North Carolina.

Tissiane de Oliviera, a Brazilian elementary teacher who is starting her journey with EPI this school year, added, “Congrats to your students!”


Want to learn more about EPI? Sign up for our newsletter!