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District 191 teacher named state art educator of the year

Kathryn Petri went to an awards ceremony recently thinking that she was being honored as the 2016 Minnesota Elementary Art Educator of the Year.


Art teacher Kathryn Petri dressed up as Leonardo Da Vinci to fill the role of face painter at a school learning fair. 

Turns out she has also been selected as the 2016 Minnesota Art Educator of the Year — not just for the elementary level.

Petri was selected for the honor and received her award during the Art Educators of Minnesota (AEM) annual conference on Nov. 4. The award is presented to teachers who have made significant contributions to art education that merit state-wide recognition and acclaim.

“We’re proud to have the top art educator in Minnesota as a member of the One91 community,” said Dr. Joe Gothard, superintendent of Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. “Kathryn engages students with her knowledge, skills and passion for art.”

He also describes Petri as a dedicated, talented and creative teacher leader, both locally and at the state level.

Petri had been a successful interior designer and graphic designer when she decided to change careers and become an art teacher. “It might sound sappy,” she said, “but I wanted to make a difference, do something positive that makes the world a better place.”

She’s certainly done that, according to those who nominated her.

Petri excels at creating a culture for learning and at engaging students in learning, according to Stephanie Cin, a continuous improvement coach in the district, who was among the nominators. “She is also dedicated to finding avenues for students art work to be displayed throughout the community.”

Petri is a licensed K-12 teacher and has taught elementary and secondary students over the past 25 years, including nearly six years in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, first at Rahn Elementary and now at Harriet Bishop Elementary in Savage.

Petri incorporates performing arts – music, theater, drama, movement – into classroom learning along with the visual arts. She varies her instruction because students learn in many different ways. For example in a recent class with second graders, she read a humorous poem about make-believe characters called “The Wumpaloons Which Never Were” by Jack Prelutsky. Then she collaborated with students to create a Wumpaloon, followed by each student designing their own.

“Kathryn is full of joy as she delivers masterful, well-organized lessons,” according to colleague Linda Lange. “She pulls up technology sources, artists’ prints and her original productions to teach art concepts, inspire student creativity and demonstrate how students can produce their own works of arts.”

“Elementary students have so much energy and I love that they’re so creative,” said Petri. She focuses on getting their ideas flowing and encourages them to think outside the box — exactly the qualities that companies are seeking in their employees

“They awe me,” she said about her students. “I love what they do — that’s the joy of teaching.”

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Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 11:47