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Giving STEM an A: Profile: Mike Ariel

Teacher Profile: Mike Ariel (AKA: "The Digital Guy")

NH Art Educator of the Year

The New Hampshire Art Educators Association has named Mike Ariel as the New Hampshire Art Educator of the Year for 2017 – 18.  Ariel has been teaching in Salem, NH for 27 years. His first teaching experience was at the elementary level, where, he says: “I learned so much about the development of children as artists and makers.” In 1990 he moved to Salem High School where he is currently “the Digital guy” teaching Photography, Design, and Commercial Art.

Ariel has also contributed his creative energy and teaching skill to higher education, joining the adjunct faculty at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 1994. He cherishes his ability to reach out to students of all ages, from kindergartners to adults.

An accomplished speaker, Ariel has presented at numerous conferences including the NAEA annual convention, the NHAEA Fall Conference, NHIA Lecture Series, and conferences in Montreal, Colorado, and California. He has also exhibited is own artwork, which centers on photography and digital imaging, at many of these same venues.

Mr. Ariel sums up his philosophy of education this way: “It is imperative that we not lose sight of this fact: we are all creative beings. We are all capable of wonder. It is up to us as art educators to keep the fire of creativity lit for generations to come. We are shapers of the stories of humanity. We are keepers of the flame.”

Teaching His Students to Explore "What If..."

Art Gives Students an Edge

Mike Ariel exposes his students to endless possibilities through his visual arts courses at Salem High School.

Mike Ariel wants to give Salem’s emerging STEM programming an “A for Art.”

As Salem High School’s “Digital Guy”, Ariel is passionate about integrating creative problem solving into math and science curriculum. “Science looks for answers,” he says. “Art is about the questions.”

Ariel believes art gives his students an edge. “There’s no right answers in art,” he explains. “The possibilities are endless. Once students embrace this, it sets their brains on fire.”

As the 2017-18 NH Art Educator of the Year, Ariel has helped light the creative fire in even the most dedicated engineering students. He tells the story of a skilled math and science student who took one of his design courses as an elective. “He had some quality technical drawings in his portfolio from his engineering classes,” Ariel says. “He could have stopped there. But then he started to play.”

"The beauty of art is that you're never wrong. There are no right answers."
-- Mike Ariel

As part of the design course, the engineering student learned to reimagine his flat drawings as 3D renderings. He then brought them to life creating models from a 3D printer and photographing them using lighting and camera skills learned in Ariel’s courses. The resulting presentation helped earn the student a ticket into Cornell’s prestigious architectural program.

Ariel envisions a coordinated curriculum in Salem where students with varied skills will come together and share concepts, thoughts, and ideas. “This integration of art, technology, and engineering provides the complete package,” he said. “The combination sets our students up for success in whatever they pursue.”  

SHS Visual Arts Courses