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Spotlight on: Kathy Giles

Rhinebeck High School Art teacher Kathy Giles was born in Queens and grew up in Westchester County. As a child, she and her family frequently visited many of the museums in Manhattan and she traces her love of art back to this early exposure. Kathy attended SUNY New Paltz, where she received a BS in Art Education in 1996 and an MA in Art Education in 2002. That same year she married and moved to Rhinebeck.

Kathy Giles

When did you first get interested in art and teaching art, what sparked your interest, and what kinds of things did you to pursue it?
I have always had an interest in art since I was a child. My grandmother, who lived with us growing up, was an artist and I would draw with her frequently. My father loved woodworking and some of my fondest memories of my childhood are of building things with him in our woodshop. My Mother was also always doing something around the house with fiber arts. I guess I started my teaching career early when I ran the arts and crafts program at my local town camp. During college I worked at Mohonk Mountain House for a few summers as their art director, and taught art classes at the Barrett Art Center and Mill Street loft.

How did you first start using technology to teach art and how does technology fit into your approach to teaching art?
When I first came to RCSD I noticed that there were some gaps in the art program. This is when we decided to pursue creating a Computer Graphic Design class to diversify our art curriculum. I was taking grad school classes at this time so while taking a graphic design class I also did an independent study with Arthur Hoaner, the head of the Graphic Design Department, who also happened to be the husband of a teacher in the Rhinebeck district as well as a parent. So I proposed the addition of this class and we piloted it the next year and it was very well received.

Is your approach typical of current art teaching? Do you see technology playing a larger role in art teaching in the future?
I feel that I have a rather traditional approach to teaching art. But I am trying to embrace how modern technologies can play into these. In my Sculpture class, for example, I had my students research an artist whom they were basing a sculpture off of and they created QR codes that we attached to the display. This would direct viewers to the artist’s website, so if they were interested in the piece they could further explore it.

We understand that you work with 2nd graders–can you tell us a bit about that?
Well I am not only a teacher in the district but a parent as well. I have two boys, Griffin and Sawyer, and I am always trying to find ways that I can come into their classroom and do some sort of art project that could tie into their curriculum. Last year I worked with Barb Rizzolo’s 3rd grade while they were working on a natural disaster unit. Her students created superheros to battle each disaster. We also worked with Mrs. Secor’s 1st grade and her students did gingerbread men and women based on a story that they had read in class. All of the students loved the projects so much that I asked Mrs. Yearwood if she was interested in collaborating this year with the Drawing class and she enthusiastically said yes. Students in Mrs. Yearwood’s 2nd grade class were studying polar regions. They were asked to create a line drawing of their favorite Antarctic or Arctic animal. In Art Studio, the high school students added an environment using color, texture and a background. Upon completion, CLS students received their original drawing, a colored copy, and a personalized note from the student who “finished” their drawing.

What hopes or goals do you have for art education in the future, particularly as it involves the use of technology?
The RCSD Art Department would love to digitally document students’ artwork done from Kindergarten through Senior year so students could see how their artwork progressed through the years in Rhinebeck.

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