Art professor Grace Megnet named Piper Professor

    When Grace Megnet came to America, she had very little money in her pocket but lots of big dreams in her mind.

    Now, two decades later, Megnet has won one of the biggest awards possible for a college professor.

    Megnet, who teaches Art at Lamar State College Port Arthur, has been named a 2019 Minnie Stevens Piper Professor, an award given to just 10 higher education professors from across the state of Texas.

    “I considered the Piper Professor Award as unattainable,” Megnet said. “It still seems unreal, a dream from which I will wake up in a minute …”

    In fact, Megnet has worked more than a minute to reach this apex of teaching recognition. Megnet’s voyage from Switzerland to Port Arthur has taken her down many varied paths. With little more than the clothes on her back, she arrived in Texas pursuing a dream that would include art, literature and education ... lots of education.

    Growing up in Switzerland, she studied at the University of Berne, and at the Sorbonne, and then became a teacher. In Switzerland, she prepared gifted children for the gymnasium for four years at a Swiss school, then joined Mother Teresa in her charitable works. Grace opened three new foundations, including one with a school for refugee children.

    “I got into teaching by accident but once I experienced the classroom,” Megnet said, “I often wondered why I should be paid for it because it was so much fun.”

    When she came to the U.S., she taught Fine Arts at a Catholic school, opened an art gallery, earned a Masters of Fine Art in painting, and pursued a career as an artist. She joined LSCPA in 2005 and became a full‐time assistant professor in 2009. She recently completed a second master’s degree in literature.

    “It is a great honor to receive the highest teaching award in the state of Texas,” Megnet said. Two of my mentors, who I greatly admire, are Piper recipients, and I never thought I would one day be part of this group.”

    Organized in 1950, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation is a non-profit, charitable corporation focused on postsecondary education in Texas. Each year, the foundation selects 10 Piper Professors from across Texas for their superior teaching at the college level. The Piper Professor Award recognizes professors for outstanding academic, scientific, and scholarly achievement and for dedication to the teaching profession. These awards are intended to provide increased recognition of teaching excellence, although the Foundation's Selection Committee also considers research, publication, and related activity. The recognition also comes with a cash honorarium.

    The Arts classrooms at LSCPA are at capacity each semester with students clamoring to take part in each assignment and absorb every story shared by Megnet. There exists a palpable love of learning between teacher and student that has encouraged many LSCPA alumni to pursue careers in art related fields.

    “I want my students to know that we all have gifts,” said Megnet, who was also recently recognized with the Texas State University System Regents’ Teacher Award. “I want them to know that with dedication, responsibility, and work, we are able to create a life of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and the people around us.”

    What’s next for Megnet?

    “I don’t know … do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with the Lord,” she said.