Henrico’s Top Teachers – Lynn Zinder

Art has always been a key element of the palette that is Lynn Zinder's life.

As a college student, she expected she would one day use her love of the craft in a therapeutic way for patients. But a professor of hers at VCU had other ideas and urged her to teach instead.

"So I ended up becoming an art teacher therapist," she said recently, with a laugh. "I feel like I get to do both."

Zinder found her comfort zone at the Steward School, where she is in her 23rd year (following several years in public schools) and teaches art to lower school students. During her time there, she's watched the school grow from a small private school to a highly regarded jewel in Henrico's West End.

And she's made her mark on Steward's canvas, too.

"Lynn is constantly looking for new innovative ways to introduce new styles and methods in her art class," a nominator wrote. "She enhances the student's curriculum with the art projects. One of her main passions is teaching the students to be loving people and to give back to their community."

That, Zinder said, is one of the things she enjoys most about teaching at Steward.

"That's just been a calling of mine all along," she said of working with nonprofits and other community-based organizations. "We try to expose [students] to all sorts of different things."

For a decade, Zinder served on the school's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day committee, which annually plans a day of service on King's birthday, during which students and faculty members visit nonprofits, public schools and other groups to help beautify them or perform other needed work. The students have visited homeless shelters, assisted the James River Foundation and done work for public safety officials, among many other groups.

"Lynn works tirelessly to ensure her students have a wonderful, enriching, and learning environment in art," the nominator wrote. "She is constantly researching new possibilities for her art students to accomplish. She is loving, giving, talented, tireless, committed, passionate, and an all around wonderful person.”

At Steward, Zinder also is thankful for small classes (usually about a dozen students or so) and the opportunity to have them in class twice a week.

"We have a state-of-the-art school with great art rooms," she said. "Fifteen years ago, we got to design a new building for the art program [the Paul Cramer Center for the Arts] the way we wanted it to be. This school is so supportive of the arts. I always say we're in the Taj Mahal. Anything I ever want, I can get, for us and the children."

Although Zinder has incorporated technology into her art lessons – a current class is creating a quilt, square by square, with embedded LED lights operated by circuits students created themselves – she hasn't lost sight of the primary functions and foundations of the craft.

"We still have to have art for art's sake," she said. "I hope art will continue as it is."
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May 2017
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The University of Richmond, in conjunction with Falls of the James Group – Sierra Club, will present the 20th annual Big Yard Sale from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Millhiser Gymnasium, 23 Boatwright Dr., on the UR campus. The sale features students’ discards including clothing and shoes, linens, household items, sporting goods, appliances, office supplies, rugs, furniture, books and more. Proceeds benefit GreenUR and FOJG-Sierra Club education programs. For details, visit http://www.sierraclub.org/virginia/falls-james. Full text

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