Hope School has always supported artistic creativity inside and outside the classroom through teacher developed projects as well as after school clubs and Hope PTH sponsored Artist in Residence programs. This year Hope welcomed art specialist Janet Manuta to the family.
Having moved last year from the east coast to Seattle after teaching art 40 plus years in grades K-8, Janet and her husband found themselves living a few blocks away from Hope School. She began substitute teaching last year at Hope after realizing she wasn’t ready to retire yet. Janet says, “I needed to get back into the classroom to fill my soul with the creativity and energy of children! I feel so fortunate to have found Hope Lutheran where everyone – staff and students – have been so welcoming.”
At a young age Mrs. Manuta would spend time with her dad who was a self-taught artist and draw. Mrs. Manuta shares, “Art was my favorite subject in school, but I hadn’t planned on being an art teacher until my second year of college. I had to take an elective, so of course I chose an art class. My teacher was so inspiring. She convinced me to combine my love of art and working with children to become an art teacher. That was the best decision of my life!”
If you haven’t had an opportunity to walk through the halls you should take a few moments and look at the pieces each of the classes has created. It feels like walking through an art gallery; even if the classes have been working on the same unit, every piece is different and unique to the student. “There is something about each grade level that is unique, challenging and inspiring to me. I love the pure innocence of kindergarten art, as well as more technically elaborate artwork created by older students. My goal, as a teacher, is to inspire my students to trust their instincts and ‘think outside the box’ which opens up the door to incredible expressions of creativity, individuality and success,” says Mrs. Manuta.
Mrs. Manuta doesn’t just teach art; she is an artist herself. Her artwork was recently featured at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse in February in the West Seattle Art Walk. She says her personal art has evolved out of her love for Henri Matisse’s “Cut-Out” collages. “He has inspired me to explore nature with organic shapes and themes based on my new home in the Pacific Northwest,” she explains.
Using the open space in the Fellowship Hall, students sit at the round tables watching as she talks about the latest project they will be doing, using her easel to highlight examples and techniques the students will be using for the project. As you can imagine, students get restless to begin, especially when a new set of paints and brushes are on the table, but Mrs. Manuta makes sure the lesson is taught first and then the fun can begin.
“I bring my passions into my curriculum by introducing my students to these artists in a way that makes them come alive in the eyes of the children. I want my students to be able to interpret a work of art using materials and techniques as similar to the originals as possible. More importantly, I love that I can introduce the same lesson to an entire class, yet end up with each child’s unique interpretation, with their own style and personality shining throughout,” says Mrs. Manuta.
Thank you Mrs. Manuta for sharing your God-given talents with Hope Lutheran students!