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“TCC is more than a college. It’s a place that changes lives.” — Heather Boone

Heather Boone is the Professor of the Year, chosen by the Faculty Senate. Professor Boone has taught Graphic Design at the college since 2008 and is being honored for her dedication to student success and engagement.

Boone, a Virginia Beach resident, teaches typography, publication design, interaction design and systems design in online, in-person and hybrid formats.

“TCC is more than a college. It’s a place that changes lives,” Boone said. “Some students have so many obligations with families and full-time jobs and it’s rewarding when they reach their goals, find meaningful work and then reach out to tell you how well they are doing.” 

Her recent accomplishments include preparing for the new Visual Arts + Design Center, which is set to open on the Norfolk Campus in the fall. “It’s great to be in downtown Norfolk with plenty of design businesses and activity,” Boone said. “In addition, the design space is beautiful, and we have a lot of room to spread out.” 

Boone recently reworked the Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design degree with Professor Mary Lee Shumate. The new degree is cohesive and covers all areas of design from visual communication to website design to motion graphics.

“It is so rewarding when you see students realize they love this career. They become excited by every project and want to see the classes just keep going,” she said. “Helping students find their path is the best part of the job.” 

Boone serves as the faculty advisor for the 340 Art and Design annual publication, formerly 340 High Street, and has facilitated ten editions. The most recently printed 23rd edition honors the journey of the Arts Center from Portsmouth to the Norfolk Campus. The 24th edition is currently in production and Boone is scheduled to begin the 25th edition with students in the Fall Semester at the new Arts + Design Center.

When she isn’t teaching, Boone spends free time with her son, William. The pair enjoy swimming, traveling and frequent trips to New York City. William is following in his mom’s footsteps with a passion for art and design. Recently awarded art student of the year in his grade, William is currently designing his own typeface.

Boone holds a Master of Fine Arts in design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. She is also an alum of the School of Visual Arts in New York City and Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton, in the U.K.

Live! Inside the classroom — Drawing I at the Visual Arts Center

In this series, we provide a closer look at hands-on learning during COVID-19.

While COVID-19 means online learning for most Tidewater Community College students, some are back in the classroom for hands-on training. In fact, more than 400 sections of classes in interior design, automotive, health professions, welding, veterinary technology, culinary arts, visual arts, electronics technology and other programs have on-campus components. 

A peek inside two drawing classes

Professors Nancy Mansfield and John Runner hold Drawing I classes at the same time at the Visual Arts Center (VAC). Step into either classroom held at opposite ends on the third floor, and suddenly the outside world seems miles away. Student artists, some with headphones, others enjoying the tranquil solitude, are in the early stages of learning to draw, using just pencil and paper.

“This is their haven,” Mansfield said. “For two hours and 20 minutes, they get to sit down and just work. No distractions.”

Student Jack Johnson

The assignment, a trio of volumetric bottles in Runner’s class and brown paper bags in Mansfield’s section, calls for drawing what you see. Wouldn’t we all love to see the fine details studio arts major Valentina Halilaj (her work is below) can find in simple lunch bags?

What if I can’t draw?

Most of us haven’t been formally taught how to draw. When we take pencil, pen or marker to paper, we’re winging it. Drawing I class teaches you technique. “Everyone can draw,” stressed instructor John Runner. “It takes practice to do it well. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to master it. Learning to enjoy it is a much better takeaway.”

Mansfield assures that drawing is a process “with lots of adjustments and looking at things differently.” She adds, “How well you can draw depends on the desire, and like many skills, practice.”

Students later learn about value, perspective and shading and benefit from the feedback from their peers through critiques.

The final project

Students evolve from pencil to charcoal. They conclude the class by completing a self-portrait. By creating their own likeness, they can work on it as much as they like outside of class. Mansfield notes, “All you need is a mirror!”

About the professors

Mansfield has taught drawing at the VAC for nearly 20 years. In addition to Drawing I, she teaches II, III and IV. The University of Florida graduate also teaches in the community, including classes at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.

Adjunct professor Runner gives special attention to each student and works to understand individual habits and style. “Empathy is an important part of teaching,” he said.

Runner earned his master’s in Visual Studies at Old Dominion University. His portfolio includes multiple works from the VAC’s Art Faculty Exhibition. He also teaches Printmaking I.

What the students say

“I like the feedback (Professor Runner) gives. It’s fun to be in a drawing class. It’s nice to be able to get out of the house.” — Allison Shaw, undecided major

Student Alexzander Powers

“Honestly, I enjoy everything. It’s teaching me a lot,” — Alyssa Odom, graphic design major

“I like that I can get feedback right away.” — Deannah Myers, studio arts major

“I’m better with computer design, but I like this. It’s peaceful in here.” — Jack Johnson, graphic arts major

“It’s nice to get back to basics,” — Nyasia Evans, graphic design major

Sign up!

Drawing I and II will both be offered in the spring semester. For information on registering for classes at the VAC, contact

Student Art and Design Exhibition opens March 24 at TCC’s Visual Arts Center

Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center (VAC) will host the 47th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition from March 24 through April 19. The event features more than 150 works, including studio arts, photography, graphic design, ceramics and glassblowing, created by students for art classes since last March.

“Fine Tuned with Patience” by Alexandra Brannon

The exhibition’s awards presentation is March 31 at 11 a.m. at the Commodore Theatre, 421 High St., in Portsmouth. The opening reception will follow at noon at the VAC at 340 High St.

Events are free and open to the public.

Robert Sites, artist and painting instructor at the Governor’s School for the Arts, is this year’s judge. During the event, Sites will present $3,285 in awards recognizing artistic excellence.

“Space Fabric” by Taylor Harvey-Thornton

Programming for the exhibition includes illustrated lectures by a visiting artist and a visiting art historian. On April 3, Alison Stinely, assistant professor of painting at Old Dominion University, will present “Gilded Splinters and Other Works.”

On April 11, Kimberli Gant, McKinnon curator of modern and contemporary art at the Chrysler Museum, will present “Legacy of a Curator.” Both programs begin at 12:30 p.m. at the VAC in room 208.

For information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.