NAEA Monthly Mentor

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Reta Rickmers

Hello to all, my name is Reta Rickmers. I’m in my 27th year teaching high school art. My path to becoming an art teacher did not run straight. I tried many jobs from waitressing, working on the highway as a flag girl, to the U.S. Forestry Service in timber management, to installing street signs for the City of Austin, Texas. Art, however, is the thread that has always run through my life. In 1985 as a single mother of two young boys, I enrolled in California State University, Chico to obtain my BA in Art and a teaching credential. I began teaching in 1990. I teach at Pleasant Valley High School (PVHS) in Chico, California and also serve as the Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair. PVHS is a school of about 1,800 in town of about 100,000 when the college students are here. I am eternally grateful that I found my niche in life as a high school art teacher. I love working with teens. I learn from them constantly and they help keep me young. I am also a working artist focusing on acrylic paintings.

As a teacher and an artist, I want my students to think like artists and to use art to process their own lives in a personal way. I have my students actively engage in our community as much as possible and use their artistic talent to give back to the world through art service learning. I am constantly revising and recreating my curriculum to keep it fresh and vital for the students. I’m a risk-taker and so I love to try something new so that the students and I are both learning at the same time. I have written many grants over the years to fund my program, The Art Studio @ PVHS, a two or three year in-depth art program. I also teach Drawing, Introduction to Art, and Advanced Placement Studio Art. I am very proud to be the current Pacific Region National Art Educators Association Secondary Art Teacher of the Year.