Sia Kyriakakos, or Ms. K as her more than 90 students affectionately call her, began teaching in Baltimore City in 2011. She’s been teaching at MERVO for two years and loves it. “The administration here is very supportive of the arts and they support what I do,” Kyriakakos said.
Kyriakakos says she was thrilled when Dr. Thornton came on as CEO and said he wanted to bring back the arts and make them a priority in the schools. “It’s so nice to know that I’m supported from the top down.” Kyriakakos is a lifelong artist, she says she had a gift in her hands and she can give that gift to her students. Kyriakakos, who is extremely dedicated to her job and students, which includes her personally transporting students to art shows and exhibits and encouraging them to do do art outside of school. “That’s what they need,” Kyriakakos said. “Some of them come from hopeless situations and they come here for stability and I can give them that by being here everyday and doing my job.”
Kyriakakos says she doesn’t just teach art she teaches hard work, perseverance, resilience and how to love art. She says she’s trying to help them develop a good character and become successful people. Though Kyriakakos loves teaching art she says what does bother is equity. “Art is important,” she says. Baltimore City,however, only requires one credit of art to graduate, which means Kyriakakos often doesn’t see students until their junior or senior year which she says, isn’t nearly enough time to find out what their true potential is.
“I’m trying to teach them how to be creative, how to problem solve and have life skills,” Kyriakakos said. “But in order to be successful at this, art has to be a priority.” She said not enough principals in the district support art and art teachers. She believes that having art in schools is a civil right that students are being denied.
That being said, Ms. K is going to continue doing what she does for the love of her students. “I’m so happy Ms. K is teacher of the year,” DeShawn Barnes, an 11th grade student of Ms. K said. DeShawn was the one who brought the idea of Ms. K being given the award to the schools principal. “He thought it was a great idea and said he would look into it.” DeShawn said. “She really deserves it, she works hard and she’s taught me and other students character and art, of course.”
Tyshay Rigby, a 10th grade student in Ms. K’s class said she wasn’t an artists before she met Ms. K. “She taught me how to blend colors and how to do so many things.”
Ms. K was probably more excited than her students, when more than 30 people from North Ave., including Dr. Thornton, entered her classroom on April 18th to surprise with the teacher of the year award. “I was shocked,” she said. “I’m still so excited to show off my students and art in general.”
Kyriakakos will compete for Maryland State Teacher of the Year and eventually National Teacher of the Year. She will get the opportunity to through out the first pitch at an upcoming Orioles game.