Philadelphia autism support teacher receives a statewide honor

Mike DeNardo
August 31, 2019 - 4:00 am
Olney teacher Christina Lukac

Courtesy of Bethany Barton Photography via Lukac

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia high school art teacher is beginning the school year with some statewide recognition.

In Christina Lukac's Autism Support and Life Skills classroom, at Olney Charter High School, her 65 special needs students learn art with individual attention.

"Some students might need more visuals,” she said. “We have some students who are nonverbal, so they communicate through a device."

She says they're encouraged to express themselves through drawing or painting or sculpture.

"I feel like with art making, it's a way that they get a chance to communicate in ways that they might not be able to verbally," she said.

The 30-year-old Lukac has been named "Outstanding Special Needs Art Educator" by the Pennsylvania Art Education Association.

She comes from a family of artists, she has a brother who has autism, and she says she always wanted to be a teacher.

"I used to play teacher when I was a little girl and I'd set up all my stuffed animals and I would have them be in my classroom," she said.

Lukac is starting her third year at Olney. She helps to run the school's Friendship Club, in which her students engage in games and activities with the general student population. She'll get her award at a conference in State College in November.