By Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — Those visiting Michele Schneible’s classroom at Piqua Catholic school on West North Street get an immediate sense of spring as large, colorful flowers dot the walls. The wide blooms of construction paper invoking a season still a good six weeks away if current weather-related conditions and a persnickety Punxsutawney Phil are any indication.
Schneible is the last of six new educators welcomed to the school campus at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, and part of the continuing Daily Call Class Act series. Those previous new educators included new science and math teacher, Amy Woehrmyer, third grade teacher, Mary Beth Brooks, first-grade teacher, Ashley Schulte, Spanish teacher, Cebele Cambron, and tech coordinator and 7th grade religion teacher, Tom Zink.
“It’s always hard to come into a new position,” said Schneible of her experience so far at Piqua Catholic as an art teacher who oversees all grades at the campus for a total of 121 students. Not for her sentiment to be mistaken, as with a wide smile and noted exuberance she spoke of her art class and students, along with the work of making sure the latter receives a good, solid foundation on the subject before tackling the many varied aspects of it on the way.
Originally from Versailles, Schneible attended Bowling Green as an undergraduate in art education and working on a master’s in Theology. She lived in Virginia for six years, teaching privately in community-based, homeschool and co-op style environments before a return to the area where she grew up so as to start her family -she’s mother to three- brought her back to public education.
When asked how she came to art in particular, Schneible said the desire began early.
“There’s a lot of things I wanted to do with my life, I still say ‘what do I want to be when I grow up?’ but I’ve always had a very strong admiration for my art teachers and I always wished that I could do what they were doing,” explained Schneible who is a mural artist, as well, starting at age 15 with her canvas the walls and ceilings of churches and schools, to name a few. “I don’t take my artwork with me.”
For her students, their favorite mediums are clay and painting.
“The messier the better,” said Schneible who has had a lot of fun teaching students a new way of creating by challenging their creativity such as contour drawing without picking up their pencils. “The most fun, to me, is to challenge the students to create in a way they don’t want to.”
Meaning, Schneible challenges her students creativity by not so much thinking outside the box but actually working outside of it.
“When you inhibit them, it makes their imagination work overtime,” said Schneible. “It is a fun thing to do.”
Schneible’s students’ work has been in a variety of public venues including taking part in the Miami Parks District scarecrows contest where students made Picasso-style scarecrows. Their latest work is in progress at the Upper Valley Centre Mall on E Ash St.
For the mall window project, Schneible challenged her students to create a colorful winter landscape.
“We were going to do a winter theme (but) I didn’t want to make everyone depressed,” said Schneible. “They created rain drops, snowflakes and snow-rollers; very colorful storm clouds, raindrops and snow. It’s not white, gray and blah.”
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall