Katie Meyer has been teaching art at Pettigrew Elementary in Sioux Falls for three years now. Katie was born and raised in Minnesota and has an Art Education Degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her husband, Cory, is an Engineer for Verizon Wireless. Together they have two children: Carter is 8 and Caden is 6, both of whom attend Rosa Parks Elementary. Katie passion for teaching stems from watching her students use their imagination and creativity everyday in her classroom. Katie’s energetic personality accommodates her profession as she is always looking to try new activities and projects while keeping up with a classroom of enthusiastic students.
I have a bulletin board of expectations that I go over with my students on the first day of school (and to review when we come back from winter break). It includes five posters (that I’ve made), each with its own expectation. The expectations include listening and following directions quickly, showing self-control, respecting people/tools/artwork, being creative, and being a super problem solver (there are many ways to solve a problem in art). I explain to the students that all of these expectations will help us to have a calm, creative environment in which everyone feels comfortable.
2. What do you hope to teach to your students?
Besides the elements of art, art history, and how to use a variety of mediums/tools I’d like to teach my students an appreciation for art. We look at many different artworks, from a variety of artists and styles throughout the school year. When looking at art, we discuss what they see in the art. Before our discussions, I always mention that it’s okay to have a different opinion than other people in the room, but we want to be respectful of other people’s opinions. I’d also like students to feel comfortable with expressing themselves. We talk a lot about being creative and coming up with our own ideas. I encourage the students to use my examples as a starting point and to add/change things to make it their own.
3. Tell me about your teaching style.
Since I strive to have a calm, creative, and comfortable environment, I try to reflect that in my teaching. I prefer to begin a lesson with a brief introduction (which sometimes includes looking at artwork, learning about an artist or specific style plus demonstration). The rest of the class time consists of work time. As the students work, I have calm music playing in the background and I like to walk around to each student and comment on their art. This might include a compliment or constructive criticism (something they need to work on).
4. What keeps you teaching?
I teach art because I have a passion for art and I love to see what the students can create. My favorite moments are the “aha” moments. For example, my third graders were sewing recently. Two students were having a tough time with the concept of a whip stitch and they were getting frustrated. During the next class time, they were both able to finish the whip stitch with no problems and were very proud of themselves. I also love to see/hear the reaction from the students when we look at artwork. I love art history and I’m excited to bring that passion into the classroom.
5. How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a kind art teacher that encourages students to be creative. I hope that students feel comfortable in my classroom and enjoy making art with me. I also hope the students remember my passion for art. They can see that passion when I talk about artists or introduce new types of art to them.
- What type of art do you personally enjoying making? Crafts?
I am a portrait drawer/painter. I prefer to draw portraits in pencil or paint with acrylics. When I paint, I like to use non-realistic colors in order to show emotion. In college, I focused on painting mostly self-portraits. Now that I have a family, I have painted portraits of my husband and sons. I have also been knitting a lot lately. I mostly knit scarves and baby blankets. I like to experiment with the size of the needles and the thickness of the yarn.
7. If you weren’t an art teacher, what would you do? What is your dream job?
This may sound cliché, but I feel I have my dream job. I did not get this job until eight years out of college. I used to think my dream job was working as an education director at an art center, which I had for six years. I was at a small art center in which I taught all of the children’s classes also. I realized that I was looking forward to the teaching aspect rather than all of the other duties that working at a non-profit requires. Once we moved to Sioux Falls and I was lucky enough to get an art education position in the district, I realized this is where I belong.
- If you could change anything about teaching art, what would you change?
I know it’s necessary for student accountability, but I have a tough time with grading art. What I do to make it less subjective is to choose specific objectives for each project. The students are told up front what objectives I will be grading and what to do to meet that objective. For example, I might look at how a kindergartener holds a paint brush or how well a fifth grader mixes a tint. After the objectives are met, they are free to be creative with their projects and add/change things to make them unique.