Eugene Field A+ Elementary School is a unique place. It is South Dakota’s first A+ school, and is the only one in Sioux Falls. With A+ standing for “Arts Plus Academics,” arts integration and collaboration are two of the four pillars of the A+ program. The classroom teachers and arts teachers collaborate to ensure that the curriculum is taught through the arts, and the arts taught through the curriculum. It is a creative environment for unique learning. With 80% open enrollment, an arts-oriented education is exactly why students enroll, and exactly what draws educators like Megan Boschee.
Originally from Watertown, Boschee received her arts education degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen. Her first two years of teaching consisted of traveling from school to school teaching art in Sioux Falls. When a more rooted position opened up at Eugene Field, Boschee knew if she did not at least apply, she would regret it. A firm believer that students learn in different ways that need to be accommodated, she was compelled by the idea of a school that focused on arts integration and incorporated Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. She was elated when she was offered the position, and has been at home there, in her own classroom, for the last 6 years.
Boschee is also no stranger to JAM. She and JAM’s Jess Johnson met when Johnson presented at a teacher in-service. After hearing how JAM could support classroom education, Boschee got in contact with Johnson about presenting at Eugene Field’s Multiple Intelligence Day (MI Day, for short). So far, JAM has presented on creative reuse for two of those events, and has become a student favorite. In fact, some of you may remember the interactive shoebox installation at Art Maze. That was a product of last December’s MI Day. Boschee’s students were thrilled to have the opportunity to be featured in a professional art show.
Another fantastic way Boschee exposes her students to the life of a professional artist is by allowing them to pick and publish their own art on an online portfolio. It is something she has trained nearly all of her students, K-5, to do on an iPad. Pretty phenomenal. Prior to receiving five additional iPads last month, by applying for grant funding through the Sioux Falls Education Foundation, Boschee’s classroom shared only one iPad (yet, still managed to publish around 1,000 pieces). Receiving five additional devices has immensely accelerated students’ ability to publish work in portfolios on Artsonia (1,000 pieces alone since January).
Artsonia is an online student art museum that allows parents/individuals to view and purchase children’s artwork. Funds generated through the site help purchase art supplies for Boschee’s classroom. Check out the rad work of future local Sioux Falls artists here.
Aside from watching musical theater, hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and listening to podcasts, Boschee also enjoys creating her own art. As an artist, she draws inspiration from graphic design, particularly magazine ads, window displays, and billboards. Her artistic focus is largely mosaics, which is apparent in nearly every surface of her house. While it is a creative release that she mainly does for herself, she hopes to market and sell her work in the future. -TNZ
Meet Megan Boschee.
What led you to teach?
My mom is an art teacher, as well. When I was growing up, I was convinced that I was not an artist and that it was my mom’s thing, but not mine. I enjoyed art as a child, but it was never my focus. During my senior year of high school I took a few art classes that I figured would be “easy” electives and I completely fell in love with creating. I actually had a moment in my painting class where I was working on a project and I was so focused that the bell rang for dismissal and I hadn’t even noticed. I remember thinking that if I loved art that much it should definitely be what I do professionally.
What do you hope to teach to your students?
I hope to give my students an exposure to many art styles and techniques, so that they are able to be creative and are filled with a belief that great art can be created in many ways. I also hope that my students develop the courage to continue creating throughout their life. Most of all, I hope that my students will see that art is everywhere they look, and not just in museums or galleries.
Tell me about your teaching style.
I am strict on procedures, but open to variety. My students know what I expect of them when it comes to taking care of the materials and maintaining order in the classroom. I don’t have a lot of rules (my only rule is “Do your job”), but we practice everything. Every material that is introduced comes with procedures that we review.
While creating, my students know that I will support their artistic choices. I encourage them to try something new, even if it means their project won’t turn out the way they hoped. I’m looking for individual results and not cookie cutter perfection.
What is your favorite medium to teach?
I love to teach painting—especially watercolor. It is a very friendly medium for my young students, and most of my students feel successful with it.
What is the most important thing you teach your students?
That art is everywhere. Everything that they touch had an artist involved. Living your life can be a very artistic experience when you view the world in this way.
Who are your favorite artists?
I love Andy Warhol—the way that he took such simple objects and created interesting images. The whole pop art movement is fun and my students love learning about it. I’m also a huge fan of graphic design. I find it very inspiring. Advertisements are my favorite part of magazines.
If you weren’t an art teacher, what would you do? What is your dream job?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a hair stylist.
What type of art do you personally enjoying making? Crafts?
I paint (acrylic and watercolor) and I create glass mosaics—usually functional pieces like tables.
What keeps you teaching?
Creating is crucial to living a happy life. My job allows me to guide young people toward a life of creating. Teaching provides me with a secure income, a schedule that allows me to spend time with my family and most of all it allows me to create every day.
How would you like to be remembered?
I hope I will be remembered in a positive way…beyond that I don’t have any specific wishes about my memory. I always tell my students that they get to create a story for their art, and then the viewer can create their own story about it. I would apply that same idea to how people remember me. They can have their own story. I just hope it is a positive one.