A+ Teacher: Julianne Zoller

Julianne Zoller

K-2 Art at Mountain View Elementary & West Elementary School, Spearfish

When you walk into Julianne Zoller’s classroom, you will immediately feel the creativity and coziness she creates. Nearly 600 students between kindergarten and second grade walk through her doors, getting to learn new skills as little artists.

“When kids are given the instruction they need, they are unstoppable,” said Julianne.

In 2003, Julianne began teaching in Sturgis. Now, she has been teaching elementary students in Spearfish for the past 10 years.

“My dad was an art teacher, I have siblings who are teachers, and it just seemed like the natural fit for what I wanted to do,” said Julianne.

Each lesson of art is paired with deeper learning, often based in history. First-graders have taken DaVinci’s inventions and begin to learn about dimensions and shading. Younger students’ creativity blooms when their names become personalized with animals, shapes, and lines. And for second-graders, color combinations are the class’s focus.

But, there is more to the lessons that may meet the eye. Julianne roots a lot of her projects in the stories of the past – teaching her students about the lives, inventions, and creations of past artists like Van Gogh and Da Vinci.

“It’s obvious she is passionate about her content area and about her students in general,” said Brooke McLellan, Julianne’s colleague. “She genuinely cares and her lessons are differentiated in whatever way necessary to accommodate all students’s learning.”

There is no limit to what students in Julianne’s class will walk away with year after year. Beautiful pictures, yes; but art students also learn skills such as problem solving, self-confidence, and acceptance – skills that will stick with them into their future lives.

“They are learning through challenges, and when they accomplish a project – they are so proud,” said Julianne. “I want them to know they have the power to do anything they want – art is just one thing in a world of opportunities.”


words Jenna Carda
photos Jesse Brown Nelson


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