Watch Justine's Video
  • Graduated in 2011 with an Art and Design degree and an Art K-12 teaching emphasis and is from Kersey, Colo.
  • Is inspired by the found-object art of Gabriel Orozco
  • Prefers working with clay over other art mediums
  • Motivated by seeing her students succeed

Hands-on experience as a
student teacher

Justine Wahlert's hands smooth the walls of the wet clay as she shows one of her art students how to put the finishing touches on a final project. It is her last day working with the ceramics class at Greeley West High School before her semester of student teaching ends.

Over the semester, Justine transitioned from student to teacher; guiding others to discover their own passion for art while helping them develop their artistic abilities.

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When Justine realized that her enthusiasm for art and desire to positively impact others aligned with a career as an art teacher, she decided to chart her course for UNC. She was attracted to the university because of its strong education programs.

At UNC, she developed close relationships with her professors, who not only helped her achieve her degree, but also served as role models for how she mentors her own students. Her classmates inspired her to expand her own skills and try new mediums, such as weaving and print making.

But not all of Justine's educational growth happened on campus. As a student teacher, Justine learned valuable lessons that can only be gleaned from experience. She found that as an elementary school teacher teaching six periods each day, it's unlikely she'll get lunch. She learned that younger students are most excited by the process of creating, while older students are focused on the final product. She also learned that using a seating chart is a way to show students that she's prepared, that practical shoes are a must and that her lesson plans must excite and motivate her students.

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This fall Justine will start the job that was at the top of her list when she began pursuing her career. She'll be working full-time as a teacher at Valley High School in Gilcrest, Colo., and Valley Middle School in Platteville, Colo., sharing her love for art and helping students tell their own stories.

"I like to show the children that you don't have to have money or expensive supplies to make art. You can create art out of anything."

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