Partly cloudy skies. Low 29F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph..
Partly cloudy skies. Low 29F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: November 17, 2022 @ 6:47 pm
Smithfield High School’s art teacher Kristine Straus, who won the Rhode Island Art Education Association 2023 Outstanding High School Art Educator of the Year, teaches art in her classroom, above.
Smithfield High School’s art teacher Kristine Straus, who won the Rhode Island Art Education Association 2023 Outstanding High School Art Educator of the Year, teaches art in her classroom, above.
SMITHFIELD – Smithfield High School’s Kristine Straus won the Rhode Island Art Education Association’s Outstanding High School Art Educator of the Year award last week after more than 18 years in the district.
Straus said every day she has the privilege to work with teenagers who share her excitement for life and accept the daily challenge to learn, grow, develop, trust and work hard.
Above all else, Straus said her goal is for students to appreciate every moment of life and art through paint, graphite, charcoal, printmaking, plaster, pastel, collage, paper-cutting, marker, ink and more.
At the close of each semester, students can transfer knowledge and art-making skills and design to all other branches of academic and social lives, she said.
“This work defines my core beliefs and philosophy of art education…support the whole human both in their artistic endeavors and in their life,” she said.
“I teach them how to think and how to develop an idea from inception to creation,” she added.
Strauss taught art at Windsor School and McCabe, and the Pleasant View Elementary School, beginning in 2004, and moved to the high school in 2006. She’s taught several art courses including her favorite, art journaling, as well as an introduction to basics, advanced drawing and painting, and AP art classes.
Art journaling involves making collages on pages before journaling over the images to create an expressive, hand-made journal.
She said one of her most successful projects was a collaboration with high school and elementary students, where upperclassmen sewed stuffed animal monsters designed from one-dimensional drawings by elementary students.
Her art students are also improving the school aesthetic by painting two murals in the hallways.
Nominated by her peers, Straus was informed of the RIAEA consideration and submitted her artist statement to the board. In it, she described her artist philosophy.
“It was so wonderful. Our administration is amazing here, our students are wonderful,” she said.
Straus attended Rhode Island College, where she learned that as art educators, teachers are artists first, educators second, and advocates third. She said the sentiment is the foundation for her belief system, and as a working artist, she always has a new painting in progress in her classroom.
Straus said she paints for at least 30 minutes in the morning before school to model progress for students as well as share the challenges and joys of creating.
“Modeling the importance of creating, editing, critiquing, learning, and revising helps them to perform these tasks in their own work with confidence,” Straus said.
As an advocate for the arts, Staus said she ensures that Smithfield’s art program is part of the local community through art shows at the high school, through local organizations, and through collaborative projects with elementary schools. She also uses social media to promote Smithfield students and their work.
“As I continue in this inspiring path, I aim to keep these beliefs at the forefront of my teaching. My students as human beings, my passion for art making, and my goal in advocacy will forever drive my career in art education,” she said.
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