• CONNECT

To Commemorate Legendary Art Teacher Bob Zawerbny, Jason Herriott NSS’87 establishes a scholarship.

we connect with STUDENTS + art teacher Steve McNaugton who paint a picture of Bob's legacy

As we often discover when scholarships are established in commemoration of a teacher or student, stories surface about the powerful connections made between students and staff. Bob Zawerbny was one of those people who was widely adored by students and staff alike. Bob, or Mr. Z as he was affectionally known, was an icon at Northern. Not only did he teach at Northern for more than 35 five years, he was also a Northern student who studied with such renowned artists and educators as Ethel Curry, Percy Gardiner and John Bennett.

Bob saw art as a vehicle for discovering new ways of seeing the world. And he felt art should extend beyond the class room. To build up their portfolios, senior students, every year, spent a week at the Toronto Zoo sketching and painting exotic animals. Field trips to Toronto's art galleries and museums led to excursions to New York and Disney World. In New York, Bob and his students toured museums and galleries, as well as the studios of Mad Magazine and Marvel Comics. Year after year, Art students turned out incredible artistic work. The sheer excellence is hard to separate from Bob's enthusiasm.

So it is that in appreciation of the profound impact Bob had on his life & career, Jason Herriott NSS’87 has established the Robert Zawerbny Memorial Award in Illustration and Design. The award will be given annually to a graduating student in Design and Illustration whose superior artistic talent and excellent portfolio has inspired other students to strive for success. On behalf of Northern students, we are grateful for your generosity, Jason.  

And now – more about Bob's legacy. We caught up with Steve McNaughton, Bob's long-time colleague and curriculum leader in Northern's Art Program. Steve was in a special position to witness Bob's journey to instill a love of the arts in his students. Steve and a number of students share with us their impressions of a man who teaches us how to be in the world.
Steve's words:

"Bob was an outstanding mentor. He had great skills in art and a boundless enthusiasm. He was never dull. His students affectionately called him Mr. Z. Fellow teachers called him Mr. Entertainer. He kept his students’ attention by tolling jokes while introducing a new lesson or project. If you passed the always open doors of his classroom (room 313) you might have seen a few, or all, of his students gathered around his desk as he demonstrated how to apply a certain technique to get the best possible results. Students couldn’t stay away. There were always students working in his room at lunch and after school.
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"Bob influenced a generation of young artists who have enjoyed successful careers in the arts in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and around the world. Several have achieved international fame as illustrators, concept artists winning Academy Awards and an Emmy. Others have achieved success as exhibiting artists and painters.
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