Sibley teacher accepts state leadership role
SIBLEY, Iowa -- After 18 years of membership, Shanise Brockshus, an art teacher in the Sibley-Ocheyedan school district, became the president of the Art Educators of Iowa (AEI) on July 1.
"It's funny being at AEI conferences now," she said with a laugh, "I used to just sit in workshops. Now they look at me like I'm someone important."
After graduating in 1994 with a degree in K-12 art education from Grand View College in Des Moines, Iowa, Brockshus worked at the Ogden, Iowa, Middle School and then the Harris-Lake Park, Iowa, school district.
In 2003, she accepted her current position in the Sibley-Ocheyedan school district as the high school and middle school art teacher.
A 1990 Sibley-Ocheyedan graduate herself, Brockshus first became involved with the AEI during her student teaching. The teacher she was working under was a chairperson on the AEI.
"It was interesting my first year," said Brockshus. "It was neat to see a conference where you could sit in workshops led by other art teachers rather than a keynote speaker you don't know."
Presenters often give hands-on demonstrations of activities or lessons that you can use in the classroom, she added.
Another thing Brockshus learned during her first years with the AEI was how to connect her art lessons with other subject areas.
"It helped me see how I could use a book or a story to tie in with my art lessons," she said.
"Instead of just making pottery, I can teach about Native American pottery and tie in social studies, history and literature." Brockshus said.
One challenge many new art teachers in small schools have is feeling isolated and needing guidance for ideas in the classroom -- something Brockshus remembers experiencing when she was a new teacher.
To address this issue, Brockshus was involved in a subcommittee that developed an art teacher mentoring program through an Iowa Department of Education grant. The program began in 2007, and it pairs first- and second-year art teachers with an experienced art teacher mentor.
"A lot of retired art teachers have come back to help with mentoring. It helps new teachers work through questions and has been a really great program," Brockshus explained.
The AEI has 170 members split into districts across the state. Representatives from each district act as liaisons between the local art teachers and the AEI administration.
Brockshus served as the Northwest AEI representative for much of her time with the AEI. She acted as elected president for two years, and after her two-year presidency, she will serve as past president for another two years.
"I've had various positions on the board before," she said, explaining her decision to run for the president position. "I felt like it was my turn to step up to a higher leadership role."
In the last three years, Brockshus has also been part of a group that wrote the Iowa Core, or teaching standards, for art education.
The AEI, an affiliate of the National Art Education Association, is a 61-year-old statewide organization for elementary, high school and college-level art educators to network and develop professionally.
The organization makes a variety of resources available to art teachers, such as lesson plans, the mentor program and traveling art exhibits.
"It's been a wonderful organization to be a part of," she said. "Every time we get together, it's like a family reunion. I've been able to collaborate and feel connected with other teachers.
"I hope to keep us moving forward and encourage more young people to step up to leadership roles," she added.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at