Columbian arts scholarships top $1M

Although he’s been teaching for 33 years, scholarship totals still come as a surprise to art teacher Robert Johnston.

Johnston has been an art teacher at Columbian High School for the last 27 years. This week has been special to him and the Tiffin City Schools art department.

As of April 1, Columbian students have been offered more than $1 million in art scholarships since 1994. Scholarships totalled $104,000 this year alone.

The scholarships are from professional art schools around the country. For example, the Columbus College of Arts and Design has been close in working with the students, Johnston said. The scholarship money is what is offered to them, not necessarily what is accepted, he said.

Johnston has worked with students who are interested in pursuing art careers to get their portfolios together.

“I know what the art schools are looking for. I work with students to prepare them for college and the art world with the projects we do, the lessons and curriculum,” Johnston said. “As a teacher, I am there to help students reach their goals.”

The first scholarship was awarded in 1994, Johnston said, when a student came to him wanting to go to a professional art school.

“The years went on and more and more students showed an interest and I thought that I should keep track,” he said. “It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to help students along life’s path. The number is still a surprise to me and it is a wonderful thing for the students.”

Johnston stressed that without the other teachers in the department there would be no scholarships.

“I would just like to thank Cindy Hillier, Marcie Burlile and Elizabeth Humphrey for all their labors and for starting the process of getting the students to this point,” Johnston said. “I am very proud of our kids and for helping them step forward in life and reach their goals.”