Visual Arts Teacher
I currently teach A.P. Studio Art, Ceramics and Drawing and Design I.
During my years here at Nicolet, I have taught Advanced Placement Studio Art, Painting, Ceramics, Drawing and Design I & II and Graphic Design I & II.
I am enthusiastic to begin my 32nd year as an art teacher here at Nicolet High School and to work with all of your children! I spent my first 6 years of my teaching career instructing middle school art and theatre. I was also a teacher and coordinator for the Young People’s Art Program (a Saturday and summer art enrichment program) at Alverno College.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with an Art Certification K-12 from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. I earned my Graduate degree with a focus on Graphic Design as well as the study of Gifted and Talented in Art from Cardinal Stritch University. I have researched the teaching techniques used in gifted and talented classrooms, with the idea that ALL students would benefit from the use of those strategies. I also have earned 30 credits beyond my graduate degree in the areas of art and education.
My philosophy regarding art instruction is that visual art skills can be taught and can be learned, as opposed to being "talent" based. Students come to class with a variety of backgrounds and art experiences. Students do not need to be skilled in art to be successful in art classes (especially the Drawing and Design I course). They should take an art course to learn and refine their observation and rendering skills. A positive attitude, willingness to work hard, and the ability to follow directions will take them very far. Evaluation criteria for student work include the following: idea, craftsmanship, effort and understanding-how well the student work demonstrates mastery of the major concepts and techniques studied. Each student’s participation, attitude and personal growth are also important factors.
Aesthetics, Art History, Art Making and Art Criticism are taught in every class. The courses in the art department are designed to be taken sequentially. A diagram is included in the Nicolet Course Handbook. Drawing and Design I is a class designed to build skills, so the emphasis is on observation and rendering techniques of representational images. In advanced level classes, there is more stress placed on developing conceptual ideas involving higher level thinking, as well as communicating personal student voice through their work as they continue to refine their skills and advance their understanding.
The Nicolet Art Department is well regarded in the state of Wisconsin. We have a tradition of winning many awards in regional and national exhibitions and competitions. During the past 4 years in particular, we have had students earn top awards in art competitions at both the national and state levels, including the National and Regional Scholastic Competition, Young Arts and more locally, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin State Fair and the Congressional Art Competition. The majority of our A.P. Studio Art students have earned scores of 4 and 5 on their Advanced Placement Studio Art Portfolios, as well as scholarships to prestigious art schools such as Cooper Union, Rhode Island School of Art and Design, Carnegie-Mellon, New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, School of Visual Arts and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
On a personal note, I am married with three children. As an artist, I was a potter for many years. Over the past 14 years, in addition to working with clay, I have been painting with acrylic on canvas and glass, drawing with pastel, creating fabric wall relief pieces and working with graphic and digital collage.
My other interests include dance, yoga, boating, water skiing, downhill skiing, biking, hiking, volleyball and travel.
I thoroughly enjoy working with students at Nicolet High School. I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with your children. They continuously inspire me, I learn so much from them and I am proud of their accomplishments.
I am privileged to work with an outstanding group of colleagues, Ms. Schmidt and Mr. Medved in the art department, as well as all of the administration, faculty and staff throughout the building who are extremely supportive of our pursuit of excellence in art education.
Patricia L. Leeson