The Kansas Art Education Association (KAEA) selected Heather Huettner, art teacher at Crestview Elementary, as the Outstanding Elementary Art Educator for 2018-19.
Huettner is recognized for her many contributions to art education in the Shawnee Mission School District, as an active member of the Kansas Art Education Association and for her work in the local art community.
At Crestview, Huettner developed the school’s annual ‘Designs with Dad’ evening that is attended by more than 200 adults and students every year. She also partners with one of the school’s local faith-based community organizations to hold a week-long Art Camp for students over the summer.
“Huettner’s work reaches beyond the classroom,” John Bartel, Crestview principal said
“She is the art teacher that every school wishes they could have.”
Huettner was nominated by retired art educator Linda Nelson-Bova. Nelson-Bova taught for 34 years and worked with Huettner on the KAEA Board, at art conferences and at summer art camps. Huettner’s award will be presented to her at an awards banquet during the KAEA fall conference at Rock Springs, Kansas in October.
“The thing that attracted my attention the most to Heather was her social media presence,” Nelson-Bova said. “She consistently shares her students’ work, accomplishments, activities and shows. That and her time and willingness to share her knowledge by presenting at conferences made her an excellent candidate for the award.”
Huettner has been an art teacher in the district for 12 years. While at Crestview, she has connected with several community partners to provide her students and their artwork extra recognition. She hosts an annual art show at St. Michael’s, St Mark’s, Homer’s Coffee House and at the school district’s R&D Forum.
“Art levels the playing field for kids because all students can feel success,” Huettner said. “It’s a place where they can express, and many times surprise themselves.”
In an effort to be mindful of resources and the environment, students do not receive a second piece of paper if they make an error. Instead, Huettner encourages students to take the mistake and work it into their project or creatively shift their idea.
Huettner develops lessons to enhance STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) skills. She enjoys connecting her students to as many different mediums as possible.
“It’s rewarding introducing any student to a new art form,” Huettner said. “And the benefit is that things we use in our everyday life, phones, chairs, watches, all had to be designed. So many jobs require creativity and creativity can’t be automated. We need design-thinkers and collaborators. The job market for these talents is expansive.”
In her own art work, Huettner said she always enjoys whatever she is currently working on in professional development. If she is taking a class in fiber, then papermaking and weaving are her favorites.
Her favorite experience is seeing students who said “I can’t” create something they didn’t think they could. Her philosophy is that art can be the difference-maker to keep a child in school when they find their artistic niche.
“Students are enthusiastic to attend art class,” Diane J. Feeley, retired Shawnee Mission principal wrote in her nomination letter. “They are proud of the artwork they produced because Huettner believes in each one of them as an artist and in turn each child sees her or himself as an artist.”