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Jessica Melrose, the Visual Arts Teacher at City High School, is one of Tucson’s 40 Under 40 Award winners! In this blog post, we share excerpts from Jessica’s nomination, written by Executive Director Carrie Brennan, highlighting the breadth of her experience and the impact she is making in her classroom and community.

40 Under 40 Jessica Melrose
Jessica Melrose poses with one of her personal art pieces.

“Jessica came to Tucson from her native New Jersey to attend the University of Arizona and has been teaching art since she graduated fifteen years ago. Jessica’s can-do spirit is infectious and helps to make her an incredibly effective teacher, artist and leader. The Tucson community is lucky she decided to put down roots in the Old Pueblo!

For Jessica, art is not separate from the complex world we live in. She connects students with social issues and community events, coaching them to craft and share their art to express themselves articulately and passionately to make an impact on their world.

Jessica strives to reach all students. She inspires in the talented artists the desire and skill to take their work to a professional level and brings along the reluctant beginners with tools and steps to become successful. Jessica recognizes the power of deadlines and real world audiences to motivate students to produce quality work. She connects with community partners, encourages students to participate in contests, creates gallery spaces, and uses social media to share student artwork with public audiences.

Jessica is a true leader driven by action. She created a dedicated website for her students’ work where reproductions can be purchased and proceeds are shared between the individual youth artist and the school’s art program, cityartworks.net/. Jessica is a one-woman department, planning and implementing the art curriculum at City High School with a wide variety of offerings and levels, including Art 1 through Art 5, Portfolio, Independent Study, Yearbook & Video Productions. She mentors and assist her students in portfolio development for those who want to pursue art as a career.

Jessica has also taken a leading role in the brand design for CITY Center for Collaborative Learning and City High School as well as projects for the Paulo Freire Freedom Schools. She supports City High School’s social media sites with compelling student stories and images.

While Jessica has facilitated many students winning awards over the years, she has also garnered some herself. Jessica was awarded Arizona Teacher of the Year in 2008 and Top 10 Arizona Charter School Teacher of the Year in 2010. She also earned a high-level grant from Friends of Western Art and purchased all the art supplies at locally owned Sarnoff Artist Materials.

When you meet Jessica, you will quickly see that she is a creative, strong and dedicated teacher, and embodies all the traits of an accomplished, impactful 40-under-40 leader.”