Tough decisions are made at the right time.
For Lincoln Elementary art teacher Angie Schafer, the time was her to retire after 41 years of teaching.
At the end of this school year, Schafer will finish her 30th year in McPherson.
“It was a tough decision, especially all the craziness that’s going on now,” she said. “I decided it was time.”
Schafer spent the first 11 years of her teaching career in El Dorado before moving back to her hometown.
“When I came here, I was the first elementary school art teacher full-time they’ve had since the 1940s when my mom was a kid here,” Schafer said. “The art teachers here had written a nice curriculum. They had artists in the schools that they got through grants over the years.
“It was fun to get that all started.”
When Schafer began teaching, schools did not have room specifically for art. As schools expanded or in the case with Eisenhower being built as McPherson’s fourth elementary school, Schafer had to teach off a cart.“
“They were pretty overcrowded then before they built Eisenhower and added onto Washington,” she said. “I was thrilled when we got art rooms. It made the job a lot easier.
“I really love the job and enjoy working with kids. Art’s a subject that most kids seem to really like. It’s fun to teach something that they are excited about.”
After being the lone elementary school teacher for some time, her final years have been teaching students at Lincoln and Washington.
Lincoln has been a special place for Schafer, since he attended the school when she was a child.
“It’s really fun,” she said. “It was a different building back in the ancient days when I went to school there. It’s been cool to go back to my old elementary school, even though it’s a different building.”
With COVID-19 canceling the remainder of the school year, Schafer has been able to partner with her fellow art teacher at Roosevelt and Eisenhower to provide a weekly lesson for kids to do at home.
“It’s been really tough, because I want to be there with the kids making art together,” Schafer said. “We know all the kids don’t have as many supplies as others. We try to put things out that they can do with pencil and paper or pen and paper, or they could go farther with it with ever they have to work with at home. We’ve put out art challenges.
“Kids have art once a week and we put out one thing a week. Parents have emailed me pictures of things (the kids) have done, so it’s been fun to see those. I hate ending this way without saying goodbye to the kids in person, it’s tough.”
Lincoln principal Cody Rierson was able to be a student of Schafer’s and now is her boss.
“I've been able to work with her as a student, teacher, and principal,” he said. “I've enjoyed her at every single level. We are lucky to have educators like her.”
“Her love for art and students was evident every day.”
Lincoln speech pathologist Jana Johnson was also a student and colleague of Schafer’s.
“Thank you for the positive impact you've made on LES students,” she said.
After the school year concludes, Schafer hopes to continue doing some artwork around her home, and hopes students appreciate what goes into a work of art.
“I’ve got several projects around the house that I would like to get done, and I’m thinking of getting a little part-time job too,” she said. “Art allows students to express themselves. They not only learn about making art, they learn about artists and past civilizations and history.
“Art allows students to problem-solve and think creatively. While I realize not all of my students will become artists, I think an arts education can be a great influence on any path they choose. I've enjoyed being a part of that.”