Woodhouse instills love of art into her students

Jane Woodhouse has been teaching for the MCSD for 12 years now. Eleven of those years have been spent teaching art at the high school. She’s seen her conversing with freshman Jake Merrill during a painting class. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     A mid-life career change led to 12 years of teaching art classes for the Monticello Community School District.

     “This is where my heart is,” said Monticello High School art teacher Jane Woodhouse. “I believe this whole heartedly.”

     Woodhouse received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Coe College. She worked in the interior design and visual merchandise world for several years before deciding to dedicate her life to education of art.

     “I just decided that teaching is where I wanted to be,” she said.

     That’s when Woodhouse went back to college, again at Coe, to earn a certificate in teaching.

     The MCSD is the only school district Woodhouse has taught at in her teaching career. She spent her first year teaching art classes to kindergarten through eighth grade students. That next year, she moved into the high school, a place where Woodhouse prefers.

     “I like teaching adolescents,” she said. “It’s where I connect best.”

     Woodhouse said she’s always had a love of art, and she just hopes to instill that passion into youth.

     Her classes at MHS allow her to work with freshmen to seniors taking art classes as electives. Her classes include painting, graphic design, drawing, layout and more.

     “I want the students to be able to dabble in all of it,” she said.

     Woodhouse is also the school yearbook advisor, and serves as the talented and gifted coordinator for the high school.

     “I mentor the AP (advanced placement) online courses and meet with the students once a month to make sure they’re meeting their academic goals,” she explained.

     Woodhouse said students take part in the program on a volunteer basis, knowing so many of them have busy schedules with everything they’re involved in before and after school.

     “It looks good on college transcripts if they participate,” she said.

     Woodhouse said like any other class taught within the school, there are national standards for art classes even though they’re not required classes.

     “We want the students to grasp the concept of art, with special learning targets to make sure everyone is proficient,” she said.

     Woodhouse teaches seven different art classes throughout the week, average 15 to 20 kids per class.

     “Anybody can be an artist if they just keep at it,” she said of the students’ abilities. Woodhouse it’s like taking part in a sport or gaining a new skill. “The more practice you have, the better you get. Some just have that natural ability. Art is good for the soul.”

     She said it’s fun to see her students light up with they start identifying themselves as artists at the end of the school year.

     “Some of my past students have reached out and invited me to their (art) shows to see their work,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

     With youth immersed in technology, Woodhouse said society is all about visualization.

     “We’re a visual culture now more than ever,” she said, “with social media and everything being web-based.” She said graphics and layout are present everywhere you look.

     Aside from teaching, Woodhouse also serves on the teacher dialogue committee with Superintendent Brian Jaeger.

     “We provide feedback from the perspective of the faculty,” she said.

     Living in Marion, Woodhouse said she’s still able to witness the support of the Monticello community when it comes to the school system here.

     “I’m originally from Dyersville, so this community feels like home.”

     She said the MCSD provides its students with so much opportunity, allowing them to try something to see if it’s a good fit.

     “They can try a bit of everything,” she said.

     Woodhouse also likes that the district implements real world connections into its classes, spanning all of the different departments. In art, past students have painted murals around the high school. Woodhouse said this project gives them ownership in their school, their work, and the community.

     Outside of school, Woodhouse and her family enjoy traveling and spending time outdoors. She’s visited six different countries “and I want to go to more,” she said. “I like to see the art because that’s what I love.”

     The Woodhouse family has also been to half of the country’s national parks. “We’ll hit them all eventually,” she said.



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