Two fine arts teachers at St. Michael-Albertville High School recently received recognition for their commitment to excellence in art education.
First, Art Educators of Minnesota awarded STMA art teacher Kari Halker with the Secondary Art Educator of the Year award. She received the award last month at the Minnesota Art Education Convention in St. Louis Park.
“What an honor for you and, as I hear it, well deserved,” school board chair Gayle Weber said.
“I was very honored,” Halker said. “It’s nice to be appreciated.”
Halker has been an art teacher at STMA for 19 years, teaching all types of classes from advanced placement drawing, 3D design and 2D design classes, sculpture, ceramics and more.
Halker said that while art is fun and relaxing for students, she said it is work and takes just as much time to be good at it, just as in math or science.
“I believe that all of my students have the ability to be successful, but it is work,” she said.
Halker added that she is happy to have a principal and superintendent who are supportive of the arts, so they and the art teachers can work as a team to help the program thrive.
Next, vocal music teacher Joe Osowski was selected to represent the United States as a Conducting Fellow for the 2017 International Conductor’s Exchange Program. This program allows for emerging leaders to interact with choruses and choral musicians from one another’s respective counties.
“We know you are dearly loved by your students, and we want you to know how much we appreciate all your hard work,” Weber said.
Osowski said he will be staying in Costa Rica for two weeks in February and March, where he will work with a local music school near the capital of San Jose and other local music organizations. He will be trading places with choral director Susan Hernandez, who will work with his STMA students while he’s in Costa Rica working with hers.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for this opportunity to experience choral music in a different culture, and for a conductor from a foreign country to come and work with the ensembles here at STMA,” Osowski said. “I’m looking forward to learn how other cultures prepare choral music and to discuss repertoire and pedagogy with their directors and then implement these strategies with my host ensembles. Hopefully I will take away new skills to implement with our students here at STMA.”
“I have the opportunity to see [Halker and Osowski] work with kids each and every day and to see the glow in their eyes,” High School Principal Bob Driver added.
Driver said the arts department has expanded by leaps and bounds over the past 5-7 years, and the choral music program went from 130 students when Osowski started five years ago to 380 today. He said students in the arts and music programs have been getting more awards, more opportunities and more scholarships in recent years.
“These two are catalysts to make that happen, and we’re just excited to have them on our staff,” Driver said. “It’s really important they get recognized for what they do, and they deserve it so much.”