A morning bell rings at Roosevelt High School, and outside a room in the deepest recess of the C Wing of visual and performing arts, Erin Nguyen waits smiling outside her ceramics classroom. As the high-schoolers file in, I note that it’s only the second week of a new semester, and Erin is able to greet each of her students by name.
Known as “Miss Winn,” to her students, Erin lives in Sioux Falls with her husband, Dan. She has ten years of teaching experience, and has spent the last two working her “dream job” at Roosevelt. Consummately expressive with her face and her words, Erin laughs easily and speaks at a leisurely pace, drawing out the vowels of certain words, turning her conversation into a kind of melody.
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.
Meet Lindsay Twa, an Associate Professor of Art and Director of the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery at Augustana University. She holds a B.A. in studio art and music from Concordia College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on African-American art and the Black Diaspora, Haiti, and the economic structures of the art world. She has curated nearly 70 exhibitions and her recent book, Visualizing Haiti in U.S. Culture, was published with Ashgate in spring 2014. After a long hiatus, she is back in the studio again and enjoying, as she puts it, the struggles of being a beginner printmaker.
Twa is married to Dr. Mark Larson, an Associate Professor of Biology at Augustana College, where he teaches Pharmacology and Biochemistry. The two love to travel. Before arriving at Augustana, Mark was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham in the UK. Being there for three years allowed them to travel throughout Europe, Turkey, Egypt and Israel frequently.
In 2001, after reading Katie Alvord’s book, Divorce Your Car, the Twa family began a “car light” experiment—driving a car once a week or less. From 2003 until 2010, they went “car free.” While they returned to owning a car once their son was three months old, they continue to try and be as “car light” as possible by remaining a single-car family.
Twa describes herself as a serious, but amateur, distance athlete. On top of finishing 8 marathons, including the Snowdonia Mountain Marathon in Wales, she has completed two triathlons, and biked across the state of Iowa as a part of RAGBRAI. In 2007, she was an inaugural member of the Central Plains Cycling team and completed races around the Upper Midwest.
“I was the #3 woman in SD that year, though that tells you how few women were racing at the time!” said Twa.
While she finds herself in a range of roles, Twa says her newest and most favorite role of all is being a mother. She and her husband have two boys, Alexander (5) and Isaac (3).
“The days are full, but life has never been so colorful and wondrous,” she said.
I had the pleasure of interviewing and meeting with several art educators in the Sioux Falls area about their experience and passion for teaching children. Art educators carry an important role with developing a child’s creativity, imagination and problem solving abilities. Although the art educators of Sioux Falls may varying in experience and teaching style, they all strive to provide the best art education possible. One of the first educators I interviewed was Kathy Dang from Cleveland Elementary School. Originally from Hutchinson, MN, Kathy has been teaching in Sioux Falls for 5 years. She received her bachelors in K-12 Education and Art from Augustana College and in addition received a Masters in Education from Augustana as well. Kathy’s hobbies include; cooking, yoga, gardening and enjoying time outdoors. ~Nakia Fritz
Kathy Dang- Cleveland Elementary
“I hope my students understand that art is not about creating pretty objects, it is about developing problem solving skills and visual thinking strategies that will help them throughout their lives. Art, especially in elementary school, helps students to realize that there is more than one way to solve a problem, we can learn from our mistakes, and that art is a venue to share our ideas.”Continue reading Kathy Dang a Sioux Falls Art Educator→