Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

District art teacher receives award


For the last decade, this teacher has inspired students to think beyond their own creative realms to make masterpieces.

Shane Steiss, a Green River High School art instructor, was recently selected as the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Teacher of the Year.

Shane was flattered by the award and was a little bit surprised when he received a nomination letter.

When he found out about the nomination, he thought about just letting it go, but his wife Annie insisted he fill out the paperwork for the award. Annie was not new to the process since she had won this award a few years ago.

Shane didn't want to apply for the award because he was afraid if he did receive it, others would think he was bragging.

Annie told him if someone thought he deserved the award and went out of their way to take the time to nominate him, then he needed to take the steps to try and obtain it.

"Sometimes you've got to put the humble thing aside and be proud of what you accomplish," he said. "I don't like to be in the spotlight."

For this award, one just doesn't simply get nominated and receive it. There is an application process one must complete after they are nominated.

Shane said he had to write seven different essays on various subjects, including what his philosophy on education was, what he thought was important about teaching and where he thought teaching was headed in the future.

"Things are a lot different in an art class," Shane said. "It's pretty involved. It's pretty rigorous."

Shane said one of his biggest challenges in his art classes is knowing when to suggest something to a student and when to back away and let them figure it out for themselves. The last thing he wants to do his put is stamp on every one of the kids art pieces. It is their art, not his. He wants his students to find their creative niche and what they are good at.

One of Shane's favorite parts of teaching is when he sees one of his students succeeding.

"For me, it's when a kid gets it. They're proud of themselves for achieving something they didn't think they could do. That's what gets me," Shane said.

Shane goes out of his way to make sure the students hear from others artists instead of just him. Shane, who considers himself more of a painter than a sculpture, teaches both and often looks for other ways to enhance his classes.

For example: each year Shane invites an internationally-known professional pottery maker to his class. This pottery maker teaches the students for a couple of days.

"I want to continue that and expand it," he said.

He said it is nice for the kids to interact with someone who creates art as their job.

Shane is the first to admit he wouldn't be successful if it weren't for the support team he has at the high school and on the administration level.

Lauressa Tramp, Shane's student of three years, said it only took her a day to get to know Shane well.

"It was one of my favorite classes. He's one of my favorite teachers," Tramp said. "I always knew if I was having a bad day, he would make it better."

She said he always makes jokes and keeps the atmosphere light.

She said whenever a student would get overly upset with a project they were working on, he would encourage the entire class to dance to a song. This way everyone would get relaxed again.

Every day we have music in there as we work," Tramp said.

While Shane was a high-school student at GRHS, he studied under Rudy Gunter and Dennis Freeman. He said both teachers inspired him to pursue art as a career path.

Shane said he always knew he wanted to be a teacher. Both of his parents were teachers and he saw what an impact their teaching had on their students. He wanted to have that type of impact also.

It wasn't until high school that he realized his career path might change slightly when he met Gunter.

"I took a drawing class from him when I was a freshman," Shane said. "He kind of found that artist inside of me."

Shane decided to combine his two passions and become an art teacher.

He said he thinks about Gunter a lot, especially in tough teaching situations. Shane said he always thinks about what would Gunter do and how would he handle this particular situation before he makes a decision. Shane will continue to use his past experiences while he teaches his classes at the school.


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