Participants will be instructed by three veteran high school art instructors, with over 40 years of public high school art teaching experience between them. Our instructors have collaborated numerous times over the years to offer art educators their expertise in effective studio practices in the classroom. All three are integral parts of the Illinois High School Art Exhibition, one of the Country's premier Visual Arts exhibitions and college recruitment fair. The organization's mission is to advance art education for young people by providing art exhibition and education opportunities that celebrate students' artistic achievement, promote mastery and ingenuity in learning, and facilitate post-secondary opportunities.



Chris Sykora, Deerfield High School, is the Co-Creator and Executive Board Member for the IHSAE. He holds a Masters in Educational Leadership, with a Principal Endorsement. Chris has served as the Secretary and Advocacy Taskforce Chair for the Illinois Art Education Association. These roles have included coordinating and leading countless workshops and presentations with key legislators and education leaders to enhance visual arts experiences for students in Illinois. With a social constructivist education philosophy and passion for the arts, Chris has led numerous project-based and interdisciplinary projects and workshops with numerous teachers and outside organizations, while advocating for STEAM, Design Thinking, and SEL curricular systems in school districts; bridging intersections across disciplines, learner communities, and democratic policy. He recently launched the podcast, Hey Teachers! with the goal of innovating education.

Teacher website: (find examples of Creativity Explained, Creative Activism, and Beyond STEAM)

Podcast: HeyTeachers! Let's Innovate Education

Teacher Instagram: @HeyTeachersPod

Free Webinar on Youtube:



Deanna Sortino, Niles West High School, has been teaching for over 15 years with 11 of those years focused solely on the digital arts.  Deanna has her master’s degree in Educational Technology and her BS in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography. She continues to stay up-to-date with current digital art trends by attending various professional workshops throughout the school year and summer. Within her educational career, she has won a Sponsor Recognition Award for her contribution to the 2017 Ocean Awareness Student Art Contest, presented multiple times at the NAEA and IAEA Art Conferences, is a member and contributor to the Digital Art Teachers’ Association, and co-creator of the Niles West Mini Portfolio Day. Ms. Sortino is the Portfolio Coordinator, Data Analysis Coordinator, and Assistant Graphic Designer for the Illinois High School Art Exhibition. Her students continue to have top scores on the AP exam, and within the past six years alone, Ms. Sortino’s students have won 10 National Scholastic Art Awards and 440 Regional Scholastic Art Awards. Her students have also received over $8.4 million dollars in college scholarship offers in the past four years .  Instagram: @dsortino

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John Zilewicz, Niles West High School, has been teaching the AP Studio Art and Advanced level courses for the majority of his teaching career. Zilewicz is the Co-Creator and Executive Director of the Illinois High School Art Exhibition, former IAEA Northeast Council Vice President and the 2017 High School Art Educator of the Year. His students continue to achieve top scores on the AP Portfolio Exam, receive countless scholarship offers and recognition for artistic excellence. He brings over 15 years of AP Studio Art instruction and training experience. Zilewicz is also a regular presenter at IAEA Conference and has been a presenter at the NAEA Conference. Over the past decade, Zilewicz has continued to dedicate himself to improving his teaching practices and philosophy through summer professional development workshops, studio coursework and his own personal art-making practices. Zilewicz maintains a home studio and actively exhibits his own artwork.  Instagram: @jzilewiczart