40th Annual Governor's Arts Award

Category : Awards

Pinnacle High School English Teacher Named as a Finalist in the Governor’s Arts Award

Tuesday , March 02 , 2021

Congratulations Katherine Fizz Governor's Arts Award Finalist

Katherine Fizz, an English teacher at Pinnacle High School, has been named a finalist in the Governor’s Arts Awards in the category of Arts In Education - Individuals.

“This award means a lot to me personally and professionally. This is very much a win for arts integration. To be a finalist as a general education teacher for integrating arts into my classroom and thus integrating arts into my community is an incredible achievement. Preparing students for a successful future drives my unit planning; therefore, I have to continue to stay relevant and ask myself how to bridge gaps and build success in all students regardless of background or learning ability.  We are all impacted by personal experiences, which consequently often play a role in creating our cultural biases. Integrating arts is one effective way to weave the thread of understanding between us and breaking down those biases. When I sit down to plan my lessons I ask myself, ‘How can I make this a unit that I can sell tickets for?’ in order to maximize student engagement. Next, I ask myself, ‘How can I make this unit one that builds their emotional intelligence and cultural literacy’ so that I might have a lasting effect on my students. Finally, I ask myself, ‘What resources are available in my community?’ to help make this content come alive,” said Fizz.

Arts-integrated projects that Fizz has incorporated into her English curriculum at Pinnacle High School include

  • Phoenix Art Museum 
    • A Night at The Museum 
      • Students participate in mini literacy lessons tied to current exhibitions.
      • Created a multi-disciplinary (Foreign Language, Language Arts, History, Science, Math, CTE) arts-integrated community event.
      • She has hosted several of these with one year having more than 1000 students and parents.
  • Arizona Opera
    • Florencia in el Amazonas
      • Tableau, other mediums of expression pairing, and artist visit.
      • Created a multi-disciplinary (Spanish and Language Arts) arts-integrated project for 300 students.
    • Candide 
      • Two hundred parents, students, and staff.
  • Phoenix Theatre
    • Created written arts integration instruction plans for elementary through high school for the directing partners of the theatre.
    • Evita 
      • Dramaturge Book Creation.
      • Created a multi-disciplinary (Spanish, Video Productions, Language Arts) arts-integrated project for 300 students.
    • Scottsboro Boys 
      • Dramaturge Book Creation.
      • Created a multi-disciplinary (Drama and Language Arts) arts-integrated project for 300 students.
  • ASU Gammage 
    • The Aging Magician 
      • Tableau, other mediums of expression pairing, and artist visit.
      • Created a multi-disciplinary arts-integrated project for 180 students.
  • Scottsdale Arts (SMOCA)
    • Students participate in mini literacy lessons tied to current exhibitions.
    • Created a multi-disciplinary arts-integrated project for 350 students.
    • Artist in Residency Programs in my classroom, including two this year.
    • Hosted several JFK Center for Performing Arts Teaching Artists.
    • Created written arts integration instruction plans for elementary through high school.
  • Mesa Arts Center
    • Partnership with Phonetic Spit.
    • Annual 16-week Artist in Residency Program. 
  • Arizona Commission on the Arts
    • Annual Poetry Out Loud Nation Contest.

Over the years, Fizz has come to believe that using art to teach the curriculum strengthens students’ 21st-century skill sets, engages them in the content, builds community, enlarges scales of value, thus building cultural literacy. She explains her teaching philosophy, “It has been my responsibility to prepare students for jobs that have yet to be created in a world that is constantly changing. Every school year presents new opportunities with new batches of learners that are different and unique, each with something to teach me as well. Integrating the arts in her classroom invigorates my love of teaching, as using art to teach the curriculum strengthens my students’ 21st-century skill sets, engages students in the content, and builds community at my school. I use the arts to teach the curriculum to grow student understanding, thus building their cultural literacy. I have even taught some professional developments on how to integrate arts to my colleagues. And when Norm Pratt was in charge of  Fine Arts for our district, I completed several PLC hours with other arts and general education teachers, which was incredible too!” 

Fizz credits a fellow teacher with her inspiration to expand the English curriculum to include integrated arts. “Years ago, I got a new teacher neighbor. The classroom was always full of music, laughing, and movement. I would peek my head in the window, wishing I was having as much fun as them. This teacher was kind enough to invite me in and show me that learning and achievement and fun and creativity had a place in my classroom too. Ms. Heidi Cocco took me down the yellow brick road with her to show me the way. I am a better teacher as a result of her mentorship.” 

Fizz started her career with PVSchools in 2007 and has been teaching English at Pinnacle High School for 10 years. 

About the Governor's Arts Awards

The Governor's Arts Awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Governor. Since 1981, more than 200 distinguished artists, individuals, cultural organizations, educators, businesses, and philanthropists have received Governor's Arts Awards. Winners will be announced on March 26 at the awards ceremony.