October 25, 2017

Great teachers help their students learn and discover their passions through engaging and thoughtful content and relationship building – that’s what led Michael Anne Higgins to become an art teacher, and now she hopes her students can have the same experience in her classroom.

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Ms. Higgins in her classroom at STRIVE Prep – Sunnyside.

Ms. Higgins, an Ohio-native, grew up a dedicated figure skater. She always thought that something in athletics would be the route she took in life, so when she attended Miami University as a Division 1 athlete, she selected Sports Studies as her major.

“I didn’t like it,” she explained. “I felt like I was in a freshman fog – I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

Shortly after this, Ms. Higgins went home for a break and visited her high school art teacher. When the teacher asked how college was going and she explained her struggles, the teacher had some advice.

“She told me ‘I think you should quit what you’re doing and become an art teacher,’” Ms. Higgins said. “I wasn’t sure I could, but she said to me ‘you don’t know what you’re capable of,’ and explained she hadn’t taken an art education class until college either.”

From there, her journey to the classroom was a busy whirlwind. She completed her degree in Art Education and made the move from Ohio to Denver, and a few months later was hired as STRIVE Prep – Sunnyside’s art teacher.

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A student works on a drawing in Ms. Higgins’ class.

“It was one of those times where you realize you don’t care how long it takes or that you’re up late working on it, you do it because you love it and it’s something you’re passionate about.”

Three years later, she’s still passionate about quality art education, and as the Art Content Lead for the STRIVE Prep network (in addition to teaching art to three grades, full-time at STRIVE Prep – Sunnyside), hopes to spread that joy to all STRIVE Prep scholars.

“The biggest hope I have for my students is that they can have structure in the classroom, but also have the freedom to develop their own critical thinking skills and ability to make decisions, not just as artists but as whole people,” she said. “These are developmental things they might not have the opportunity to do in other spaces, but that I can give them the confidence to develop.”

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