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'One teacher can change the world': Yorktown 4th grader wins statewide art contest

'One teacher can change the world,' Yorktown 4th grader wins statewide art contest
Posted at 1:21 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 17:22:54-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - One Hampton Roads 4th grader will have her art shown across the Commonwealth.

Nitha Nithin, a student at Coventry Elementary School in Yorktown, was chosen out of nearly 300 applicants as the Virginia Lottery's elementary Thank a Teacher Art Contest winner.

Nitha's favorite color is pink, her favorite subject is science, and at such a young age, she is already putting others before herself.

"This inspiration came from teachers all around the world teaching students to be kind and smart," said Nitha when describing her winning artwork.

Nitha says her drawing features her favorite teacher, Mrs. Gulaskey, and includes a special message for all Virginia educators.

"One book, one pen, one child, one teacher can change the world. Thank you for being the one!" said Nitha.

Her parents say they can't keep markers and crayons out of her hands.

"If we take her to a shop to buy toys or something; she always wants to buy something related to art," said her father. "She really loves art."

Nitha's art teacher is hoping this win inspires her for years to come.

"I think it's huge. I don't think she realizes how big it is," said Callie Villasenor, an art teacher at Coventry Elementary. "She enjoys art. She follows the rules. She's so kind and a good friend."

The prize package includes a $150 gift card for Nitha, $1,000 for Coventry Elementary to use how they'd like and $1,000 for art supplies.

Ms. Villasenor hopes to use that money to expose students to different forms of art.

"Working with fibers, and weaving, and sewing, and things like that," she explained.

But for Nitha, her passions don't stop at drawing.

"I want to be a doctor when I grow up," she said.

Three winners - one from each of the elementary, middle and high school levels - were selected from about 300 entries in the Virginia Lottery's annual Thank a Teacher Art Contest.

The artwork will be featured on thank-you notes that will be distributed to thousands of teachers across Virginia during National Teacher Appreciate Week.

The thank-you notes also include a code on the back, which teachers can enter online to win a Virginia vacation, a gift card and $2,500 in supplies for the teacher's school.