Congratulations to Valerie Banks, the WAEA February Art Educator of the month. Here's a bit more to help you get to know Valerie.
Hello, my name is Valerie Banks and I teach K-12 art at Royall School District in Elroy. This is my second year at Royall and my twelfth year as an art teacher. Prior to Royall I taught for ten years at Portage School District, both at the high school level for six years and at the elementary level for four years. I come into art education with a different perspective and a plethora of diverse experiences of better than 25 years working outside of the education field. I worked for several years as a freelance artist and for several more years in an illustration firm, not to mention the odd jobs of office work, waitressing and so on. However, it is my love of art and children that have brought me to my greatest work - art education. I started this career in my mid 40’s and now wonder why I didn’t start earlier. Oh well, I’m a testament that it’s never too late to begin something you love!
I describe K-12 like this: at the high school level you gets hugs around the shoulders, with the little elementary kids you get hugs around the butt, and the middle school kids are ping-pongs, you never know from which direction they are coming! It is so much fun teaching all the grades. I get to see them as younger kids just beginning to bud into young artists, to watching them question and delve a little deeper into art as middle school kids, and then at last to really grasp for those opportunities to be in the art room as much as possible to create and discover their own inner artist.
I truly love getting up each morning and going to work; a job that changes not only daily, but from hour to hour, and minute to minute. Where no two days are ever the same and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Yes, the “light bulb moments” are truly wonderful when a young person finally understands what you’re teaching them, but it’s a greater gift yet when the students are smiling while they are working, or sharing their latest little art creation with a friend or when a parent tells me their son or daughter has an artwork piece on display in their home. The pride they feel in their own artwork is priceless and I am humbled to be a small part of it!
My husband can tell you, when I’m not in the classroom working on lesson plans or new art projects for my students, I’m creating my own art in my studios (pottery is my favorite), gardening over the summer months and canning like a crazy lady in the fall. Anyway you shake it, life is full and ever moving forward; hang on!
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