Congratulations to Sarah Witke the December Art Educator of the month. Sarah teaches at Parkside Elementary in the Monroe School District.
I am honored to be the December WAEA Art Teacher of the Month. Through WAEA, I have met so many inspiring educators and mentors who have assisted and guided me as I launched my second career six years ago.
After receiving BA degrees in both Graphic Design and Art Education from Iowa State University, I worked for many years as a Human Resources Business Partner at a Madison area insurance company. After a corporate buyout, I decided to make a change, renew my teaching license and was fortunate to join the staff at Parkside Elementary School in Monroe, Wisconsin. And I can’t say enough about my elementary art team. Together, we are a strong, creative force. Every year, I enjoy working with the School District of Monroe staff, my art peers and teaching each student as they explore the world of art.
Over the last several years the elementary art team has developed a document to guide us through our curriculum planning. We teach the elements of art by developing lessons that expose students to the different mediums and align with the National Standards.
For my youngest students, I teach through play. It seems a little crazy, but I say silly things such as "Please pass the mashed potatoes!" I try to make learning fun. We talk about table manners at the kitchen table, and how passing the container of crayons is similar to passing food at the table. My students make me smile as I hear them say phrases such as, "Please pass the macaroni and cheese, I really love mac and cheese!" We also read books which tie to art lessons and visual literacy. We learn about rulers and how to measure as I introduce math concepts. During these years I really focus on exposure to mediums, techniques, and tools.
As my students enter third grade, they are ready for more complex concepts. We begin having discussions about art at a deeper level, solving problems with creative solutions and delving deeper into math concepts and literacy. By this time my students know that I am going to give them more and more so they will reach higher and higher. They also become use to me telling them that I’m not teaching them how to draw, I’m teaching them how to "see". Once they can see it, they can draw it. Most recently, I have been conferring with my students to listen and observe how they are actually processing and thinking about the art. It’s rewarding to hear them interpret what they see.
My overall goal as a teacher, is to prepare students for the ever changing world around them and I do this through teaching fine art and visual literacy. Brian Kennedy, from Dartmouth College once said, “visual literacy is a form of critical thinking that enhances intellectual capacity”. In his TED Talk he also explains how each of us were able to understand our surroundings visually before we could understand the written word. Images are a global language. This really resonated with me. I am helping little minds to increase their capacity to learn and connect to others. I can’t imagine a job more important than this and I’m excited and challenged each day as I try to exceed my student’s expectations.
Thank you so much for supporting me in this effort!
School District of Monroe