We are very excited to announce another fantastic Subject Expert Teacher to our team at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School! Ms. Sarah Hetu will be joining our teaching faculty for the 2022-2023 school year as an Art and STEM Subject Expert Teacher.
Ms. Hetu joins us from the Lake Tahoe area where at her current school she is the Director of Visual Arts. Her years of experience range from teaching Pre-School to AP Art courses!
Our Head of School, Ms. Brooklynn Titus, had a chance to speak with Ms. Hetu and is excited to help all our new families get to know her!
Congratulations, on being a founding faculty member at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School! How does it feel to join a new team for the new campus?
I am so excited to join the team! Being a part of a new school is very exciting. I look forward to starting new traditions, cultivating a healthy school culture, and, in my case, building a wonderful creative space for the Fine Arts Program.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a teacher.
I knew I wanted to be an Art Educator from a very young age. Art was my favorite subject when I was young and I feel passionate about sharing my love for art with young people. I chose to major in Art Education for my undergraduate degree, so that I could share my love of art with students and adults alike.
You have worked with students from Pre-School to High School! Talk to us about how you make art accessible to all students.
Visual Art is fun and accessible to explore at all ages. The understanding of elements and principles of design deepens as students elevate through school. TK and K students might be learning how to cut paper, while Grade 3 is learning origami, and Grade 5 is creating complex paper mache sculptures! I meet students where they are and continue to foster growth from there.
Art history and appreciation of art are important parts of your classes as well. How do you help students expand upon their knowledge of art through these topics?
Oftentimes when I am planning lessons, I start with an era or style from art history. Looking at works and discussing them with students is a great joy of mine. When students notice color choices, textures, and possible meaning behind works of art, it excites me that they are noticing art is more than just a picture. Discussing the historical significance of pieces is important as well. What was going on in the world at the time the piece was made? Why was it made? With what materials?
You are a lover of art yourself. Is there a particular artist or artistic style you really enjoy introducing your students to?
I absolutely love teaching students about Non-Representational Abstraction. Non-Representational Abstraction means that an art piece isn't physically recognizable. I think it is so much fun to allow students to explore art limited to colors, shapes, and textures with no recognizable imagery. What does music look like? How about happiness? These ideas are fun to explore with Non-Representational Abstraction. I also really enjoy introducing students to notable contemporary artists, such as Kehinde Wiley, the artist who painted Obama’s presidential portrait, or Shepard Fairley, a pioneer of contemporary street art!
In the past, you have been a part of Fine Arts Festivals. Do you anticipate hosting such events at the new campus?
I definitely plan on hosting Fine Arts events! Cultivating a Fine Arts culture is really important to me and one way that can be achieved is by hosting Fine Art events. Celebrating Music, Theater, and Visual Arts with parents, teachers, and students can help promote the importance of Art Education.
These events are also important because they allow students the opportunity to share their art and feel pride in the works they have created. The Fine Arts are also a wonderful way to connect to the larger community and not just our school. I look forward to collaborating and creating great events for BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School!
Is there a particular project you have done in the past that you find really popular with students?
Any time I do a Pop-Art project students get excited! I like to modernize the style by incorporating contemporary popular culture, celebrities, and brands. Specifically, I love this fun printmaking lesson where students learn about positive and negative spaces and carve their Pop-Art image into two foam boards, one for the positive, and one for the negative. They will roll ink or paint onto their foam pieces, line them up, and press them onto paper. This is also a great way to introduce elementary students to the printmaking process.
You will also be teaching STEM classes for our youngest Bobcats. What prior experiences do you have teaching STEM?
So much of what happens in a Visual Art classroom can be easily connected to STEM, from cutting and measuring, and mixing materials, to firing temperatures for ceramics - it all connects!
I combined engineering with sculpture this past academic year. I partnered with the physics teacher on a roller coaster project. Students were to design a roller coaster for a toy car to fly down. They wanted to see whose car could go the fastest with the least likelihood of crashing. Students used formulas and tested out different angles and materials, and they even added weight to their toy cars. It was amazing to see them make the connection between artistic design and the scientific method.
How do you plan to mix STEM and Art in your classes?
Without even realizing it, students are using STEM in the art classroom every day. TK and K students are learning how to properly cut and measure a piece of paper. Grade 2 students are learning about and observing the difference between a mixture and a substance, using art materials.
I also really love to use technology to teach art. So much of what the art students see today is on a screen. Digital Visual Language is everywhere and I’d love to teach simple video game development, typography, or even digital painting in my classes!
Finally, what is your goal for each of your students?
Visual Art is very therapeutic and is a special time for students to explore materials, self-expression, and ingenuity, as well as contemporary and historical works of art. My goal is to foster a love and excitement for Visual Art and to help them gain a larger understanding of why art is important.
So many adults come up to me and say “I can’t even draw a stick figure.” As silly as it sounds, I want to stop any student of mine from feeling that way about art. I want to spread love, understanding, and appreciation of art. I want to provide a safe space for younger students to tap into their creative minds. Lastly, I aim to challenge myself as an Arts Educator to engage my students with an environment of diverse materials, concepts, and cultures.
If you have any questions, please reach out to the Admissions Team at (408) 291-0907 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a TK - Grade 12 private school, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum, with advanced STEM offerings. Considering joining the Bobcat community? Join our interest list by clicking here to receive admissions updates for fall 2022 and more.