Abby Jacknowitz was a young woman dedicated to the arts and teaching special education, often using art in the classroom as an avenue for creativity, diversity and acceptance.
“She had an extraordinary creative spirit that she brought to everything in the classroom,” said Art Jacknowitz, Abby’s uncle. “For example, Abby’s teaching assistant told us that she started off one year reading the story ‘Elmer the Patchwork Elephant,’ which had a message about celebrating diversity. But Abby didn’t just read about celebrating diversity, she had each student create a patchwork elephant that represented his or her unique self. One child smeared the paint together instead of making patches, and Abby smiled and praised it anyway.”
After Abby’s passing in 2013 from metastatic cancer of unknown origin at the age of 30, Art Jacknowitz and his wife, Linda established the Abby Robin Jacknowitz School Travel Fund at the Art Museum of West Virginia University.
The fund pays for school visits to the museum for primary and secondary students, customized programs at various grade levels, snacks and art supplies for hands-on activities.
Art and Linda Jacknowitz decided to create the fund at WVU instead of in Abby’s home state because of the rural nature of the state and their long-standing ties to the University.
“In New York, there are many museums, so students have more access to the arts,” Art Jacknowitz said. “Abby would be proud that the fund gives students who don’t have regular access to the arts the opportunity to come to WVU to experience the arts.”
Art and Linda Jacknowitz came to Morgantown 43 years ago and both are now retired from WVU. Art is professor emeritus and Arthur I. Jacknowitz Chair emeritus of Clinical Pharmacy at WVU. Linda was formerly director of West Virginia CONSULT at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, an online health information service for rural health professionals, and project director of Mountains of Hope, West Virginia’s statewide comprehensive cancer coalition. They remain active in many Morgantown area organizations, especially the Art Museum, where Art Jacknowitz is a docent and Linda is an active member of the Friends of the Art Museum. They were recently appointed as founding members of the Art Museum Advisory Council.