BHSU alum named Wyoming New Professional Art Educator of the Year

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, April 4, 2016/Categories: 2016

BHSU alum Kaitlin Klopfenstein received the New Professional Art Educator of the Year Award from the Wyoming Art Education Association recently. Klopfenstein teaches kindergarten through second grade in Douglas, Wyo.

Black Hills-inspired artwork by students in BHSU alum Kaitlin Klopfenstein's first grade class. Klopfenstein received the New Professional Art Educator of the Year Award from the Wyoming Art Education Association recently.  

With torn paper and chalk pastels, Black Hills State University alum Kaitlin Klopfenstein guides her first grade students in an art project with an approach that has earned her recognition as the Wyoming New Professional Art Educator of the Year.

The students are creating the Black Hills on paper. It's a lesson on warm and cool colors combined with geography, and Klopfenstein knows each student's art will be as individual as they are.

Klopfenstein's creativity in the classroom was noticed by the Wyoming Art Education Association who awarded her the New Professional of the Year Award recently

Originally from Rapid City, Klopfenstein graduated from BHSU in 2014 with an art and elementary education degree. She now teaches art for kindergarten through second grade in Douglas, Wyo.

"I encourage individuality with the students' art projects, I don't want the results to look the same," says Klopfenstein. "It's about the process and allowing the student to make choices of their own-to have a piece that reflects them."

Ann Porter, professor of art at BHSU, remembers Klopfenstein's dedication and great attitude in the classroom.

"She has a focused, positive approach that informs all her projects. Kaitlin is the kind of person who knows how to put a smile on your face while getting great things done," says Porter.

From clay, to drawing, acrylic, to water colors, Klopfenstein uses a variety of mediums in her classroom. She says the art component of her degree from BHSU gave her an overview of methods and student teaching showed her classroom management techniques she uses every day.

Klopfenstein says her passion for teaching began with her involvement in afterschool art programs.

"I decided I wanted to teach and pass along art, to share something I love with my students," says Klopfenstein.

This spring Klopfenstein's classroom is filled with chalk drawings of animals in the style of painter Salvador Dali. Dali's motivation for art was humor. Klopfenstein's motivation for art is to encourage and to inspire.

"I love to see my students accomplish something they previously thought they couldn't," says Klopfenstein. "They have the freedom to express themselves through art."
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