It is no secret that today’s students see life differently than their classroom predecessors of just 20 years ago. Art education, with its increasing exploration of digital creation and manipulation techniques, has pushed instructors like Sonda Copeland to step outside their comfort zones and work with materials new and unknown.
Sonda teaches art to ninth through twelfth grade students at USD 383’s Manhattan High School.
“Yes, I have a love of age-old media and want to teach my students skills in painting, ceramics, stained glass and sculpture,” Copeland writes. But she encourages students to “purposely collide the skill of their hands with the knowledge and imagination of their minds using whatever media is available to them.”
Former students say that Sonda makes assignments more than a project to be completed, turned in and forgotten about. “We wrote about what we liked and didn’t like about our work, which taught us that we, as artists, were never really done with our pieces; there was always some way to improve upon our skills,” explains one.
While Sonda works to make sure her students see their art as a part of the larger world, she also helps her teaching colleagues integrate more art in their classes. “She has a wealth of knowledge not only about the subject she teaches but also the children she works with,” writes a new teacher who finished her student teaching under Sonda’s mentoring.
"Her love for the subject and the students she teaches is apparent in every lesson she creates and teaches," the teacher concludes.
Accomplished in a variety of artistic media, The Kansas Art Educators Association named Sonda its 2007 Overall Outstanding Art Educator in Kansas.
Sonda Copeland earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Hays State University. She holds a Master of Science degree and English as a Second Language endorsement from Kansas State University. Sonda earned National Board Certification in 2004.