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Y.A.L.E School Art Teacher .Karen Donnelly Receives National Award

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Alexandria, VA—The National Art Education Association (NAEA) recently named Y.A.L.E. School NJ art teacher Karen Donnelly, of Cinnaminson, NJ, as the recipient of the 2023 NAEA, The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), VSA Peter J. Geisser Special Needs Art Educator Award.

This prestigious award, determined through a peer review of nominations, recognizes an NAEA member who has made distinguished professional contributions to art education for students with special needs through scholarly writing, research, professional leadership, teaching and/or community service.

The award was presented during the NAEA 2023 National Convention in San Antonio. Donnelly, who has provided creative and compassionate art education to the special needs students at Y.A.L.E. School for four years, proudly accepted the award in person.

NAEA President James Haywood Rolling, Jr. stated, “Karen Donnelly exemplifies the highly qualified art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars, and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession.”

Art Educators of New Jersey (AENJ) has previously honored Donnelly as a top art educator. Earlier this year, she organized the Third Annual Tri-State DisAbility Art Show, which provided an outlet for more than 250 students with disabilities across the Delaware Valley to come together and showcase their artwork.

“I am truly honored and grateful to NAEA for honoring me with this distinction,” Donnelly said. “Thank you to the team at Y.A.L.E. School NJ for supporting my work and empowering me to go above and beyond for my students, who are my inspiration. I am so proud to help my kids express themselves through art – their resilience and creativity are the reasons I love what I do.”

The mission of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) champions creative growth and innovation by equitably advancing the tools and resources for a high-quality visual arts, design, and media arts education throughout diverse populations and communities of practice.

For more information about the association and its awards program, visit the NAEA website at

PHOTO ATTACHED: Karen Donnelly, art educator at Y.A.L.E. School NJ, accepts the 2023 NAEA Special Needs Art Educator Award from Mikaela Bachmann, president elect, Art in Special Education (ASE).

About NAEA
Founded in 1947, the National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. Members include elementary, middle, and high school visual arts educators; college and university professors; university students preparing to become art educators; researchers and scholars; teaching artists; administrators and supervisors; and art museum educators – as well as more than 54,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society. We represent members in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, U.S. Possessions, most Canadian Provinces, U.S. military bases around the world, and many foreign countries.


About Y.A.L.E. School NJ
Y.A.L.E. School is a New Jersey state-approved private special education school with 12 campus locations throughout southern New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia region serving students with disabilities ages 3 through 21. Y.A.L.E. School offers a highly specialized program for students with autism and other social, emotional, learning, and behavioral disabilities that provides low student-to-staff ratios, supervision by highly-trained and certified behavior specialists, a comprehensive curriculum, intensive transition support, integrated and consultative speech services, support for families, and an extended school year program in the summer. Since 1976, students with disabilities have been placed at Y.A.L.E. School locations by their local school district and attend at no cost to parents. For more information, go to