Art painting new canvas
at Hillsboro Elementary
By TIM EVANS
Hillsboro Elementary School Principal Melissa Herek thinks she’s found something special in hiring Ellen Scharfenberg as the elementary school art teacher last year.
A first-year teacher, Scharfenberg is not only innovative, but is changing the way students in the school think about art.
“She’s done some magnificent things,” Herek told the school board of education at their March 12 meeting. “I’ve learned more in art class than I ever have before.”
Scharfenberg not only is doing some great things in the classroom, but outside the classroom as well, including taking five of her students to a Wisconsin Art Education Association K-12 state art show earlier in the month as part of Youth Art Month.
Two of the artists, Olivia McCauley and Carmen Erickson, were honored locally while three other artists, Lila Baldwin, Lauryn Hooks and Halle Hora were among 500 students across the state that had their works on display at the state capital in Madison. All five youth art month finalists attended the statewide ceremony with family and the teacher. The Wisconsin Art Education Association conducted the ceremony that was enhanced by a performance by a segment of the University of Wisconsin Marching band that included Hillsboro’s own Mackinzie Sullivan.
Scharfenberg, a member of the WAEA board, said she was “thankful “to be a board member of an association that does so much to celebrate Wisconsin’s “amazing and talented youth artists” as well as a teacher in a district that supports visual arts education.
She said students have doubled their production of artwork in the classroom this year and is teaching them various types of artwork, something she said the students are grasping quickly. Scharfenberg says she “loves to share” the student’s artwork on social media so parents and families can view their work and said she’s had a lot of praise for doing so. The teacher said there is also a big push in art vocabulary and said about 50 percent of the students have made a lot of growth in a little amount of time.
The department has also applied for a couple of state and casino grants to help enhance the department for print making supplies and other equipment, with some success. The teacher said there is also a movement to include art in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, creating STEAM and said she hopes to use her minor in art history to also enhance the classes.
School board president Jason Oetzman complimented Scharfenberg in saying his refrigerator in his home isn’t large enough to carry all the art his youngster bring home. He said taking one down to make more room for art can be a problem. “It’s amazing what a fifth grader remembers,” he said.