A celebrated figure in the field of education, Katina “Tina” Bartsokas-Ekstrom has amassed nearly 45 years of professional excellence in her field. Currently serving as a volunteer after-school teacher in the library of Leal Elementary School in Urbana, Illinois, since 2017, Ms. Bartsokas-Ekstrom was formerly a tutorial teacher at Holy Name School in New York City for 13 years, an art teacher at the Albert Shanker School for Visual and Performing Arts for 11 years, and an art teacher at the Bronx Career and College Preparatory High School for one year. She commenced her career as an art teacher at Urbana Middle School in 1974, a role she held for 15 years.
Ms. Bartsokas-Ekstrom was inspired by her father in her early years, a talented Greek calligrapher who owned a diner and wrote the menu in beautiful script. Always interested in art, she joined the decorating board in her adolescent years and learned the craft of calligraphy. She subsequently attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1955 and a Master of Arts in art education in 1975. She has since become certified in type 10 art for kindergarten through 12th grade and was appointed as a New York City Permanent Teacher of Fine Arts.
Since 1975, Ms. Bartsokas-Ekstrom has worked for a number of school districts and organizations, including the Urbana Park District, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Beaux Arts Community Party, the Urbana Library, A. T. Cross Company LLC, the Chicago History Museum, and First Edition Stamps, among others. In addition, she has volunteered as an artist for various peace coalition concerts, a designer of invitations and brochures for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an organizer for the Fund for Oklahoma Bombing. Her work has further been exhibited at the Abney Gallery and Lincoln Center in New York City, as well as the Champaign Arts and Humanities Association and the Swope Art Museum.
In recognition of her exceptional contributions to art education, Ms. Bartsokas-Ekstrom has accrued several accolades throughout her impressive career. The winner of the Merit Award from the Manhattan Arts International Cover Art Competition in 1994, she was also presented with the Fulbright Cultural Teachers Exchange Award, the Outstanding Educator Award from the Illinois Educators Association, and the Second Place Award in Painting from the Illinois 28th Annual Art Exhibition. The proud mother of five sons, Ms. Bartsokas-Ekstrom attributes her profound success to her mentors, who were always teachers who educated her in her youth.
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