You could color Shannon Wedel happy these days.
Wedel, an elementary art teacher, has been recognized by the Kansas Art Education Association as Outstanding Elementary Art Educator for 2012-13.
She will be presented with the award at the KAEA fall conference banquet on Oct. 27 in Wichita.
Angie Mitchell, awards chair, said Wedel was nominated by Linda Morgan, Goddard High School art teacher, for her “professionalism and valuable contributions to art education in the state of Kansas.”
“The Great Bend community should be very proud of Mrs. Wedel’s accomplishments,” Mitchell said.
Wedel is a graduate of Emporia State University and has spent her entire 18-year career at USD 428. She travels to all five elementary schools and has an average of 780 students each year.
“To me it has been honor enough to be nominated, to know that my peers see the workshops I present and the lesson plans I write and feel I am worthy of nomination,” she said about the award. “I really didn’t expect to win.
“When I received the letter telling me I had won, I was so surprised I had to reread it to see if it was true,” she said. “I know several of the past winners and they are such wonderful teachers. It is truly an honor to be listed among them.
Wedel has a two-fold teaching philosophy.
“I believe that creativity is crucial to problem solving,” she explained. “It will serve children well in all avenues of their lives.
“I work to get students actively involved in their learning, make it as hands-on as possible and facilitate their own decision making,” she said.
“I try to give them a safe environment for them to succeed and to fail. If they make a mistake, how can they problem solve to turn it into a success? Failure can be one of the best learning tools there is.
“I also work to assist students in developing an understanding and respect for art,” Wedel said. “I know most of my students will not grow up to be artists, but they can all have an appreciation for it.
“All children are artists. The problem is how to (help them) remain an artist once they grow up,” she said quoting Pablo Picasso and explaining why she enjoys teaching elementary art.
“I get to enjoy my students during the period of their lives when they are all artists,” she said, “when there are as many ‘right ways’ to create something as there are students in the room.
“Their ideas are wonderful to see and many times inspire me. I have gotten many ideas for projects from my students, including the murals of the namesakes of the schools,” she said, noting that idea came from a sixth-grade student.
Wedel said her own art projects have taken a backseat to her job and three children, but she loves to draw with pencil and colored pencil when time allows.
Wedel has been an active member of KAEA and has taught several workshops at the annual Kansas Art Education Association Fall Conferences over the years. She and Sally Davis, a former USD 428 elementary art teacher, presented a workshop at the National Art Education Association conference one year and she was also the chair of the 2007 KAEA Fall Conference in Great Bend.