Jill Ritchey


May/June’s educator profile is the 2013 Alabama Secondary Division Art Educator of the Year, Mrs. Jill Ritchey.

Jill Ritchey lives in Birmingham, Alabama and has taught art classes at Shades Valley High School for the past eight years. She currently serves as National Art Honor Society Chair for the Alabama Art Education Association, and previously served as Secondary Division Chair.  She also currently serves as the Fine Art Department Chair of Shades Valley High School.  Jill received her BFA degree in Painting from the University of Montevallo and MFA in Painting from Central Washington University.  She has also participated in art and education courses at Birmingham-Southern College, University of Georgia’s study abroad program in Cortona, Italy, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Jill Ritchey with NAEA Delegation, art students and faculty at the Rajasthan School of Art in Jaipur.

Jill was one of a select group of art educators from across the nation who participated in the October 2012 NAEA delegation to India working with top schools, artists and art teachers in New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.  In turn, Jill brought images, video and art techniques from India back to the classroom.  Students studied Indian culture, textile patterns and line designs such as Rangoli, Mehendi, Alpana and Mandana traditions, and applied their designs using woodblock-inspired printmaking techniques.  Results of this project were shared at the 2013 NAEA conference with a panel discussion of NAEA delegates in Ft. Worth, Texas.  Jill was also invited to share images of the NAEA delegation to India and printmaking workshop to art teachers in the Jefferson County school district held at the Birmingham Museum of Art in August 2013, and also presented these workshops at the Alabama Art Education Association Annual 2013 Fall Conference to art teachers from across the state of Alabama and surrounding states.

Jill Ritchey’s Classroom – Giving feedback on student projects.


Student Ismael Huermo works on his India-inspired line designs for printing.

Student artwork: A linoleum block print by Gabrielle Barbee after studying Indian printmaking techniques and line drawings.

Some current projects Jill has been involved with include cross-disciplinary arts integration techniques.  This spring she and Kim Mitchell, named 2014 Secondary Art Teacher of the Year for Jefferson County Schools, coordinated lesson plans and art projects that are now in progress, which coincide with the English department’s unit on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  In fall 2013 Jill collaborated with Birmingham poet/musician Sharrif Simmons through UAB’s ArtPlay Program at the Alys Stephens Center.  This was a 6 week program in which students created original poems and artwork with imaginative themes such as “dreams”, “beauty”, “present/future”and “I am”… Jill lives with her musician and tech savvy husband of ten years, Albert Ritchey and their 6 year old son Aidan.  As an artist Jill especially enjoys painting, watercolor, and mixed media using imagery inspired by nature, dreams and abstraction with roots in observation of the real world.

The Monthly Member Spotlight on our website is a great way to share stories of all the awesome work going on in art classrooms across the state of Alabama and to advocate the importance of visual arts education.   If you would like to participate, please email high quality photos of yourself, your classroom, and student work samples as well as the name and location of your school and a short biography.  Please include descriptions for the photos and a 1-2 paragraph summary of some of your recent accomplishments in your classroom and within the larger art education community. Please address content to: Lindsay Mouyal, artlindsay@yahoo.com