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Daily Inspiration: Meet Katie Powell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Powell.

Hi Katie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to today?
I am a preschool teacher with a fine arts background. I’ve been babysitting for almost a decade and teaching pre-K for about 3 years. I tutored and babysat in high school, and I took as many art classes as possible. I was co-president of my high school art club, and my senior thesis work was a portrait series of many of the young people in my life. When I was looking for colleges I wanted to study the things I have always loved: art-making or childcare. My teachers and parents encouraged me to pursue fine arts because I had a standout portfolio and a good G.P.A. So I decided to attend the Kansas City Art Institute because it wasn’t too far from my home state of Oklahoma, and I got an excellent financial package.

Over the first couple of years, I fell in love with Kansas City, and I enjoyed my time in the studio making mixed-media sculptures, installations, and video work. However, I felt a lack of young people in my life. I missed spending time with my younger siblings and cousins and babysitting for people in my community. A professor recommended I apply to Union Hill Day School, a Montessori preschool. I jumped at the opportunity and started working part-time in the fall of 2018 until I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in May 2020. After graduating in the middle of lock-down, I was able to start working at Union Hill Day School again in the summer of 2020.

I have worn many hats over those four years. I worked with every age group, infants through Kindergartners as a substitute, I was the entire time cook for almost a year, I worked as a Pre-Toddler teacher for six months, and finally, I am a Preschool teacher with a whole class of three to five-year-olds on track to get my Montessori certificate in 2023. In my classroom, I get to use the skills set I learned in my undergraduate studies through classroom design, creative class projects, and introducing diverse ways of thinking to my students. I am excited to study the Montessori method this fall, as it complements my art background and will expand my teaching methods and philosophy.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Throughout my time at KCAI, I discovered that I love making art and have a strong voice as a formal assemblage artist focused on found object installation and image-making. I also realized that I don’t want a studio artist’s career. I am opposed to networking, self-marketing, and the isolating inconsistent nature of being in a studio full-time. I love going to school in the morning and my class waiting, excited to see me. I love having the routine of the school day. Being a teacher means not worrying about applying for shows or where my next paycheck is coming from.

The financial burden that I took on for my degree is something I wish I could have avoided. Being in school is a precarious financial situation for most students, including me. I picked a private school with high tuition that my financial aid didn’t adequately cover. The high-interest loans my parents and I had to take out were not ideal. Although it could be worse, I regret taking on the debt which holds me back now. It is painful that I could have gone to a public university and studied early childhood education with a minor in the art for a much better price and be set up for the career I wanted.

Luckily, I could refinance my high-interest loans, and I can manage financially with my income just fine. I am grateful I got to KCAI as it led me to move to Kansas City, meet my partner, get my current job, and explore my artistic potential. I wouldn’t have been able to foresee any of this when I was just seventeen, looking for colleges. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I love teaching, and I am excited to have settled into a permanent classroom and started working towards my Montessori certificate. Building relationships with children is what I am most passionate about. I babysit a few times a month, and I find it rewarding and enjoyable to build relationships with families and spend quality time with children in their homes. I love spending time with children and helping them grow and discover.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
I am open to working with other artists and doing artwork for a commission or group show. Please feel free to check out my website to learn more about my art practice.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Elinore Noyes

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