Teacher of the Year: Shannon Kraeling
Shannon Kraeling is Brevard's 2019 Teacher of the Year, honored for her innovative ways of incorporating the fine arts into curriculum and partnering with teachers across various subjects.
She said she loves working with students and sharing in the excitement and accomplishment they feel when they see their finished artwork: "I enjoy showing them how to use their imagination and creativity to create art, and guiding them through the learning experience. I love teaching them that success comes from perseverance, reevaluation, revision, refinement and even failure, and seeing their pride when they finally master a skill they've struggled with. I appreciate being the reason many of them come to school each day."
After starting her teaching career in Tampa, Kraeling moved to Brevard County to be closer to her sister and young niece and nephews. For 13 years, Kraeling has been the ceramics teacher at Eau Gallie High School — a fine arts school of choice where she is the lead teacher. She has dedicated herself to developing and implementing rigorous curriculum for her classes, and her methods have served as a model for other teachers in the district.
Kraeling said many students come to her class as a last resort for the fine arts graduation requirement and many have never been taught how to think in the third dimension. Her students are willing to take risks because they know she values them from the moment they step into her classroom. At the beginning of each school year, Kraeling makes a welcome call to the parents and stays in frequent contact with them throughout the year.
When asked what her biggest challenge is as a teacher, Kraeling responds with a sigh and one word, funding.
“All of our supplies are disposable and when they are used up, it’s always a struggle,” Kraeling said.
She praised the community and business partners that have never turned down her requests for extra funds to purchase more supplies. Clay and glaze top the list of most used materials. Other needs include drawing and copy paper, masking tape, poster board and matte board, photo paper, super glue, plaster, quick set, acrylic paint and varnish. Supply funding also has to cover kiln repair and maintenance.
Meeting students at their level is important to Kraeling and she collaborates with fellow teachers on ways to integrate fine arts into the curriculum. She even co-teaches a biology unit on cells where students use impressionism techniques to paint cell tissues. Other examples include working with students to make anatomical ceramic hearts for their health and wellness academy or a brain with a cerebellum for psychology.
Kraeling will represent Brevard County as a candidate for 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year. Finalists will be announced in May.
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