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Academy of Art University Students Honor a Cherished Teacher and Inspire Future Generations

Academy of Art University Sculpture students honored the spirit and dedication of San Jose teacher Doris Dillon through their sculptural landscape tribute, Teaching Stories: A Tribute to Doris Dillon. Commissioned by the City of San Jose's Public Art Program for the Almaden Community Center and Library, this tribute is work of art that will be enjoyed and cherished by generations to come.

Representatives from San Jose's nationally recognized Public Art Program asked Academy of Art University instructor Donna Schumacher to create a tribute for Doris Dillon, a beloved teacher in the community. She incorporated the project into one of her graduate courses and with Charlene Modena, Graduate Director, School of Fine Art Sculpture, secured a commissioner-artist relationship between the City of San Jose and Academy of Art University. Seven Fine Art Sculpture students worked extensively with the community to come up with the perfect tribute to a lifetime of inspiration and achievement.

A concrete, granite and stucco circular seating area, surrounded by plantings provides a gathering area ideal for reading to children. Ten large boulders are dispersed throughout the landscape, each inscribed with a ribbon containing words echoing Dillon's life history and philosophy on education. The Academy students were inspired by an often-repeated remark from Dillon's colleagues and family: "She could teach a rock to read." Children can do rubbings on the stones with pencil and paper, allowing them to create unique sentences.

"The interactive literacy element of the artwork makes reading and writing fun, just as she always did. Through it she can continue to inspire future generations of students," said Pamela Crider, Branch Manager of the Almaden Library.

Dillon continued to devote her life to teaching after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. She directed the San Jose Unified School District's mentor teacher program and headed libraries of two elementary schools after losing her voice to Lou Gehrig's. Her valuable contributions impacted the community significantly and this tribute will keep her memory alive.


The dedication ceremony of Teaching Stones: A Tribute to Doris Dillon was incorporated into the Almaden Library and Community Center One Year Anniversary Celebration on May 19, 2007. Dillon's close friend Carol Ishikawa praised the sculptural landscape, saying that it "beautifully captured Doris' spirit." Community members were pleased to see Dillon's lifelong commitment to education captured in a work created by an academic institution.

"Due to this highly commended tribute having an impression on the lives of students, teachers, and families visiting the library, the full artist team has been able to make a lasting contribution to the community landscape," said Charlene Modena. " Teaching Stones: A Tribute to Doris Dillon is a testament to the wide range of opportunities for artistic growth the Academy of Art University is honored to foster for its students."


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