"Escalante didn´t have an art class at the high school for over ten years. Althea was able to not only start an art class, but convince parents, students, and teachers that art is an extremely important class. She started the class by volunteering her time and fundraising for donations; the class became a core foundation of the school. Over the course of the past year and a half, she has created a thriving and professional art studio resembling one at an art college. She brought the classical arts into a tiny town and inspired many students who’ve never drawn or painted in their lives. This influence has a profound and lasting effect on the Escalante youth; many of them pursuing a career in the arts. Without her class they never would have known their own talents, abilities, and passions. I wouldn't be where I am right now without her and I want to do something similar in my future.
Most public schools have art classes, but the classic arts have been taken out. Students are doing arts and crafts instead of learning how to draw and paint. At EHS we learn value and color by experimenting and creating masterpieces instead of taking a quiz on the definition of the word. I want to bring the classical arts back into schools by raising awareness and becoming an art teacher like Althea. She has done so much for me and other students. I didn’t know I was an artist until this class."
"The arts seem to be a privilege these days relegated to private schools or charter schools. Rural public schools rarely have engaging art programs. Escalante, a small rural school, did not have an art class at the high school for over ten years. Althea recognized this and offered her time to create a class. She went to the community and began raising funds. With the first $500 donation she bought tabletop easels and charcoal and paper and then started teaching the core fundamentals of classical art, drawing from life. Over the course of one and half years she raised $10,000 dollars in donations. With this the school has been able to purchase oil paints, canvases, real wooden easels, drafting chairs, side tables, and lights. The art classroom now resembles that of a private art high school or an art college. This is an extraordinary feat she has accomplished.
The atmosphere of the classroom with its still lifes casts and books of the masters inspires even the most pessimistic of the art students. Their rigorous, classical training makes the students feel like confident artists and motivated to pursue art as a serious study.
Althea enters her students’ work into art competitions during her days off. She documents their work and carefully finds the appropriate competition to enter their drawings and paintings. She has already succeeded at having four paintings in the St. George High School Museum show as well as two Utah State Senate recognitions. One of her students won a scholarship from the Utah State Senate Art Contest and the other got honorable recognition for the “She did it” contest with a portrait of Althea as an honorary woman of history.
Not only has Althea mentored many skilled and successful artists and brought in a wealth of art materials, but she also arranged for a rotating museum exhibit at the school. She researched and negotiated with the local art museum to get a museum style hanging rack in the entrance of the school to enhance the barren cement walls. The high school will have an ongoing museum exhibit in the hallways, exposing all the students to the culture of the Arts whether they choose to take her art class or not. This has a profound effect on the atmosphere of this rural school. Most of the students have never stepped into a museum and now they will have been given the gift of exposure to art.
Althea is one of those teachers whose impact will continue long past her tenure at the school and inspire many young artists for generations to come. This is why she should win The Sorenson Legacy Award for Excellence in Arts Education. Her influence in such a short amount of time is unprecedented and far-reaching."
SORNESEN LETTER OF NOMINATION