• Last modified 2968 days ago (March 10, 2011)


Teacher of the month

Art teacher sets out to make well-rounded students

Staff writer

At the beginning of an introductory art class Thursday, Hillsboro High School art teacher Dustin Dalke quickly set his students to work on a pair of projects.

He said he believes more in students doing things for themselves than lecturing.

Some students were making posters about two 20th-century artists, while others took plaster casts they made of other students’ faces out of molds they made.

The projects were related because the artists the students were studying specialized in life-size sculptures made by taking casts of people. Dalke said he chose 20th-century artists for the project because contemporary art is more meaningful to students.

Dalke, a HHS alumnus, said his three art teachers in the Hillsboro school system contributed to his decision to teach art. Former elementary school art teacher Sally Schneider was outgoing and filled with energy, he said.

Former middle and high school art teacher Bonnie Eaton always encouraged him to pursue art. It was former high school art teacher Jason Garr who finally convinced Dalke to pursue art education. Dalke said he remembered a conversation in which Garr told him, “You might even have my job one day.”

Dalke said he understands the importance of concrete subjects like math and science, but he thinks it is important for students to have an outlet for their creativity.

“Art can make people human,” he said.

He knows most of his students won’t go on to be renowned artists, but an understanding of art helps make people well-rounded.

“I try to make good citizens,” he said.

HHS Principal Max Heinrichs said Dalke is an important part of the school’s efforts to produce well-rounded graduates.

“What he does is he pulls a vast number of students into that fine arts program, and he engages them,” Heinrichs said.

Dalke gets students interested in art and helps them understand its past and where its future might be, Heinrichs said.

Additionally, some of Dalke’s former students have set off on artistic career paths, Heinrichs said. Several HHS graduates have studied graphic design in college, he said.

Junior art student Emily Hoskinson is in her third year in Dalke’s classes. She said she has learned a lot about art techniques and strengths and weaknesses of different methods from him.

She said she can see herself continuing in art as a hobby when she is an adult, largely thanks to Dalke’s involvement.

District patrons can see high school and middle school students’ art on display May 19 at the district’s fine arts festival, which showcases art and music at the school.

Dalke graduated from Fort Hays State University in 2002, and HHS has been his only teaching job. He and his wife, Emily, have two sons, 6-year-old Bryant and 3-year-old Owen.

Last modified March 10, 2011