2014 EVE Awards; Outstanding Women Honored EDUCATION KELLY DELANEY Perfecting the Art of Molding Young Adults

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

The Times-Union has been recognizing the outstanding women of Northeast Florida with the EVE Awards since 1969. This year's EVE Awards, which were given out Friday, went to Kelly Delaney in the field of education, Tammy McGuire for volunteer service and Connie Hodges for employment. Peggy Bryan received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kelly Delaney's influence has spread far beyond her art classroom.

It extends to school courtyards, libraries and hallways. It's reached the Jacksonville Humane Society, Adventure Landing, No More Homeless Pets and the food bank formerly known as Second Harvest. It's even taken the form of a handpainted chair for a beloved school custodian.

Word has gotten around. To paraphrase the celebrated line from "Ghostbusters" - "Who you gonna call ..." - when you need help with a community art project, it's Kelly Delaney.

Delaney has taught three-dimensional art and sculpture at Atlantic Coast High School since it opened in 2010 and is chair of its fine art/performing arts department. Before that, she taught art for 10 years at Southside Middle School. She is known for combining art and community service in the classroom and for a demeanor that inspires her students.

As a result, Delaney was chosen as the 2014 EVE Award winner for education. In 2013, she wrote three grants for her students. One, from Walmart, was to create an ornamental garden in the shape of a stingray, Atlantic Coast's mascot. It circles the flagpole and reminds her of the Mickey Mouse garden in front of the Magic Kingdom.

The second, from Target, was for two field trips to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, with enough left over for a behind-the-scenes look at the touring production of "War Horse."

And the third, from CVS, was for a series of fiberglass stingrays to hang in the lobby of the school's performing arts building. Each stingray has a different theme, such as a school club or sport. For instance, one of the 30 installed to date is a football stingray representing the play that resulted in Atlantic Coast's first touchdown, while another features the National Honor Society crest. More will be added in subsequent years.

2013 also was a good year because she was selected as one of the winners of the prestigious Gladys Prior Award for Career Teaching Excellence.

Barbara Jo Green, whose class was next to hers at Southside, said Delaney worked as effectively with students who didn't speak English, had severe behavior problems or disabilities, as she did with those in gifted or regular education classes.

"No matter who they were, she was able to find a unique talent in each of them," Green said.

In turn, that fueled their desire to come to class. Their attitudes, behavior and attendance improved. Plus, Green said, she involved them in projects to help others and encouraged them to enter contests. For some, that led to scholarships and awards.

Delaney's father is retired Rear Adm. Kevin Delaney, former commanding officer of Jacksonville Naval Air Station and former regional commander over 14 Navy installations. She was born at the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia and attended four different high schools. But she saw it as an opportunity to see different areas of the country and incorporate the best from each school. Along the way, there were supportive teachers who took extra time to encourage her.

"I can look back and say it has made me a better person," Delaney said. "I try to thank and pay back my teachers' extra efforts by being the best teacher I possibly can."

Delaney, who enjoys painting in acrylics, obtained a bachelor of fine arts degree from Jacksonville University with a minor in art history. …