Karen Olaussen Helps Students Discover Art at Shirley Hills Elementary School

Karen Olaussen helps Shirley Hills Elementary School students discover a passion for art.
Students in Karen Olaussen’s art class don’t just learn techniques with paints and a brush.

As Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

Karen Olaussen, art teacher at Shirley Hills Primary School, has done just that. In her seven years of teaching, she has taken students beyond simple principles of design. She inspires them by teaching them about art history and encouraging them to try new techniques.

“Ellie entered kindergarten last year with a love of art,” says Jenny Putnam, mother of Ellie Putnam, one of Olaussen’s many students. “But it is through Mrs. Olaussen’s art class that this love of art has grown beyond crayons and markers.”

However, it’s what Olaussen does for the students outside of the classroom that sets her apart: She transformed the school’s unadorned halls into a gallery that features her students’ unique pieces.

“I walk down the halls of the school and stare in amazement at all of the artwork that these elementary school kids have created,” says Putnam.

In addition to showcasing work for the school to see, each year Olaussen submits student work to the Minnesota State Fair, bringing recognition to the students and the community.

In the future, Olaussen hopes to integrate even more technology into her classes, which she is raising money for through an online gallery.