My first memory of art in school traces back to my third-grade music class. I vividly recall the excitement that filled the room as our music teacher scattered art supplies across the tables, urging us to unleash our creativity while listening to music. The anticipation of exploring those art supplies filled me with joy, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on them. As I observed my peers creating identifiable objects, like a house or dog, I decided to take a different approach. Inspired by the emotions evoked by the music, I chose colors that resonated with me and created an abstract work of art. At that moment, I secretly wished that every day at school could capture the same sense of freedom and joy.
Inspired by the emotions evoked by the music, I chose colors that resonated with me and created an abstract work of art. At that moment, I secretly wished that every day at school could capture the same sense of freedom and joy. "
Throughout my school years, I often struggled in traditional classes, particularly in language arts and math, feeling misunderstood and out of place. However, I was fortunate to attend a school with exceptional art educators—Bernie Lucero, Orlando Mestas, and Teri Kopfman—who embraced and accepted me for who I was. Moreover, my family, including my supportive parents and my musically inclined brother, instilled in me a deep appreciation for the arts. Their belief in my artistic abilities (and my known passion for teaching) was a tremendous source of gratitude and support.
Under the guidance of my mentors, I was encouraged to break free from rigid conventions which allowed me to explore my own voice and artistic style. It was through this experience that I gradually realized the true essence of teaching art.
As I approached high school graduation, I already knew with certainty that my future lay in becoming an art teacher. However, the timing couldn't have been worse, as it coincided with the recession. Art teaching jobs were scarce, presenting me with challenges. I focused on teaching art camps and preschool at the local recreation center. I needed the flexibility that allowed me to spend quality time with my eldest son and set my own working hours. The experience of teaching preschool turned out to be profoundly valuable, reminding me of the fundamental nature of early learning for children.
The experience of teaching preschool turned out to be profoundly valuable, reminding me of the fundamental nature of early learning for children. "
It was during this period that I found a full-time job teaching preschool before eventually accepting my first school district contract. These experiences shaped my teaching journey and reinforced my belief in the transformative power of art education.
My first art teaching position was split between elementary and middle school. I taught middle school art in the morning and then elementary in the afternoon. I quickly learned that what I was doing was not working for my students. There seemed to be a disconnect. I recall sitting at my desk saying “This isn’t working.” I decided to search for answers. I found Teaching for Artistic Behavior, TAB, on the internet. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of choice-based art. I spent one weekend and redesigned everything in my studio to create a new experience for my students. I introduced the drawing center as their first center. It was a revolution! Not only for the students but for me.
As time went on, an opportunity arose for me to teach k-5 technology and art full-time at one school. I began to have a love for using technology in the classroom and found that I was naturally inclined to use technology. I was assigned to be innovative in my approach to integrating art and technology. I went on to complete my master’s degree in art education at the University of Nebraska of Kearney. I wrote my thesis about implementing technology in a choice-based studio setting. My class had transformed from being called “Art” to “Creative Design” because of my approach and belief in letting students be creative in their own way. My studio was featured on Colorado Public Radio as an innovative class.
During this time I was invited to join the board of directors for Teaching for Artistic Behavior, TAB. I also was serving on the board for Colorado TAB and Colorado Art Education Association elementary chair. I even had the opportunity to host pre-service teachers in my studio. I am so fortunate to share my passion with other educators. I have built so many friendships through my art educator community. It was also through all this work that I met Roni Rohr. I always knew who Roni was but our paths finally crossed by serving on the TAB board together. Roni and I realized that we have similar experiences and ideas. We also realized that other educators needed to hear that they are not alone. Especially art educators that have taken on other roles or have to integrate the arts.
My class had transformed from being called “Art” to “Creative Design” because of my approach and belief in letting students be creative in their own way."
This past year a new school was built closer to my home. This school was set to be an engineering magnet k-8 school. I became excited at this opportunity because my passion for STEM and STEAM could shine there. (Also, my own children would love to attend a school that focused on their strengths and is project-based.) I completed my first year at this new school as the art, tech, STEM, and Project Lead the Way teacher. I am ecstatic to share my journey and perspective here on [re]Design(ing): Art Education. Especially, on how I am integrating the arts and blending pedagogies to work for students!
Let's get designing!