RHS ECHO: Online student news

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RHS ECHO: Online student news

RHS ECHO: Online student news

Meet Art Educators Wille and Shoemaker

Matthew Ostertag

Students may not notice it, but art is everywhere around Rolla High School: spilling out of the first floor art rooms, inside the gallery, on the once-forgotten lockers, and in the stairwells. These art pieces show the art department’s progression through the years and the impact art has on RHS.

Art teacher Connie Shoemaker is the recipient of several art awards and has been recognized at both the state and national level for her innovative and effective teaching; she’s a former President of the Missouri Art Education Association and a delegate for the National Art Education Association. Shoemaker works at Missouri S&T in the Arts, Languages & Philosophy departments and has been teaching various 3D art classes at RHS since 2005. Shoemaker has had a front row view of the growth and involvement in her department. 

“[The art department] is a lot bigger than it used to be,” said Shoemaker. “There used to only be myself and Mrs. Engelbrecht…But now we also have Ms. Willie here, Mr. Zink here, and we have Mrs. Vogel who’ve all been added to help with the added numbers of students that are taking the art classes.” 

Although we’ve had art teachers in and out of Rolla High School, Shoemaker has stayed because of her love for art and education.

“I have always been into art when I was a child. A lot of kids you know, their parents will put them in the corner or give them spankings or whatever if they misbehave, and if I misbehaved my mom took away my scissors. I would go into complete meltdown mode if I didn’t have my scissors and that was when I was like two or three years old. So I’ve always, always enjoyed art,” said Shoemaker.

Though Shoemaker enjoys art, she didn’t always expect to be an art teacher. 

“I originally thought I would be an artist and I would be working in commercial art or graphic design. But I had another student who changed my mind about that I met when I was in college,” said Shoemaker.

After college, Shoemaker taught at multiple other schools, but has discovered a deep attachment to Rolla. 

“I like that Rolla is not a super small town but we have a kind of a small town feel. I really enjoy the diversity because of the university and it’s just a really good place to work. There’s good support from the administration,” said Shoemaker.

To graduate from RHS students need to have one fine art credit. This includes Music, Drama, or Art. When kids take these classes they may have this realization that they love doing fine arts. 

“A lot of the kids that are in there [Beginning 3D Art] are just there because they want to get the credit… while they may not think [art’s] for everybody, I want them to hopefully find something that they can connect with and that they enjoy…I think a lot of people…think that they’re not artistic until they are forced into the situation and then they realize that they do have a creative outlet or that they do have something that they enjoy doing. Drawing, painting, whatever it might be,” said Shoemaker.

Shoemaker can be recognized for the physical art seen from her classes, but there is more than the beautiful artwork displayed at the school. Art teacher Megan Willie provides another aspect of technological art by teaching the Digital Art class.

“Digital Art refers to using computer based software as the primary medium…In Digital, we work with computers as our primary medium. Adobe Photoshop is our primary software and allows us to draw, edit, and render different images. If you don’t like getting messy, but still enjoy art, I would encourage you to check out Digital Art,” said Wille.

Wille is a new teacher at RHS and is starting her journey as an art teacher. Like Shoemaker, Wille didn’t think she would be an art teacher. 

“When I graduated from High School, I was very interested in being a social worker. The older I got, the more I missed doing art and decided to do an art degree instead. I remembered how much I loved being in the art room in high school and decided that is where I needed to be,” said Wille. 

Even as a newer member, this outgoing teacher is making new and improved plans to benefit the art program and expand digital art in our school. 

“Both of the classes I teach, Video Production and Digital Art, could expand so much further than what we are doing now. I would love to see the programs expand into new areas like Sports Broadcasting, Photography, and Graphic Design,” said Wille.

While our school expands, so do so many kids’ creative outlets. This gives RHS students a better opportunity to find an artistic activity they love to do, whether that is art, music or theater.

“[Art is] visual communication. Expression of your soul, it’s a way to calm your mind…It’s a way of saying things without words,” said Shoemaker.

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