By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A South Philadelphia teacher is being honored next month as the Pennsylvania Art Educators Association’s “Elementary Art Educator of the Year.”

35-year-old Leslie Grace has taken her passion for art beyond the walls of her classroom in the basement of Nebinger Elementary at Sixth and Carpenter.

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She’s not only organized the citywide Philadelphia Art Teachers Alliance, but over the last three years she’s raised more than $20,000 through crowdfunding to help pay for supplies that tight budgets don’t provide, saying art is necessary:

“It’s important, too for that kid to feel successful at something. If they’re failing everywhere else but then they have art and that’s the one thing that makes them feel like they’re doing something good and they’re rising to the challenge, then perhaps that’s going to inspire them in their other classes.”

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She says she never waits on the district to do anything:

“I like being here. I like being at this school. So I feel very motivated to find the means and resources to make it work for myself.”

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Grace will be honored October 8th at the Moore College of Art and Design, during the Association’s annual conference.