This year, Patrick O’Keefe, Central Catholic Art Teacher, was awarded the prestigious Golden Apple Award. The Golden Apple recognizes and celebrates the positive contributions of educational leaders in Tippecanoe County. Educators are nominated by students, parents and colleagues. The award is given by the Greater Lafayette Commerce to five teachers in the community each year.
A video of Pat being surprised by the award can be seen here.
“I was really honored and blown away by the Golden Apple Award,” said Patrick. “To come into the gym and see my family and see all the kids excited. It is one of the highlights of my teaching career.”
Patrick O’Keefe grew up in Lafayette and attended St. Mary, St. Boniface and Central Catholic. Patrick graduated from CC in 1988 and then attended Purdue University studying Art History and Art Education. Feeling called to be a teacher, Patrick started working at Central Catholic in 2004. He is currently the Department Chair of the Fine Arts program and teaches all levels of art at Central Catholic, including AP Studio Art, Intro to 2D/3D Design, Drawing, Painting, Digital Design, and Visual Communications.
“Pat is the definition of a servant leader,” said Neil Wagner, principal of Central Catholic. “He exemplifies everything that is great about Central Catholic and its Mission and is always putting his students first. He is a quiet and thoughtful leader that uses his example and kind words to motivate and ‘get things done.’ Wherever there is a need at Central Catholic you can find Mr. O’Keefe.”
Patrick goes above and beyond for his students by mentoring them in portfolio development and entering their artwork in local, state and national competitions. Each year many of his students are recognized for their artwork in these competitions, and many of these students move on to the college level in Art and Design majors and careers.
“What I really like about teaching is seeing that spark of understanding and artistic courage come out of a student,” said Patrick. “I enjoy the interaction with the students and seeing them blossom as an artist. It’s great to see them understand a concept and then later reflect back on that and use it in some other way.”
As a teacher at a Catholic school, Patrick is also able to integrate religion and faith into his lesson plans. He is able to pull from the rich tradition of Roman Catholic art, and his students are able to see how much faith has influenced art, architecture, music, and writings throughout history. The students are also able to reflect on how faith influences their daily life.
In addition to his dedication in the classroom, Patrick also currently coaches Varsity Wrestling and Junior High Football. Over the years of his coaching, he has taken these programs from a handful of students to some of the most popular sports in the school. He has had wrestlers go on to Semi-State and State for the past three years.
While not at work, Patrick enjoys spending time with his family, including his five siblings who also attended CC. He also likes to draw, read, watch sports, and go camping.