Cathleen Micheaels, Local Art Champion

Local art educator Cathleen Micheaels — dear to the hearts of many Anderson Valley students who have studied with her — was honored by the Board of Supervisors on December 4th. She was commended by the Mendocino Arts Council as one of Mendocino County’s 16th Annual “Arts Champions.” 

Cathleen second from left

Cathleen accepted her award with characteristic humility stressing that everything we can do to continue to value and fund the arts and artists in our county schools and communities is essential to not only supporting the next generation of artists but to enriching all our lives. 

Cathleen’s style of teaching is low-key and amazingly warm. She has a way of putting everyone she comes into contact with at ease. The ultimate team player she can see the big picture but never forgets to dot the i’s and cross the t’s an invaluable skill for one working in a school setting. Despite her ability to attend to detail the fun factor is always high when she is teaching and the work her students produce under her inspiration is often startlingly creative. 

We could use a lot more Cathleens to close communication gaps and smooth our way. She told the supervisors that she wanted to recognize a few people who have helped make the kinds of integrated arts projects she brings into the local schools possible including Anderson Valley’s Donna Pierson-Pugh, Kira Brennan (who is responsible for nominating Cathleen for this honor), Terry Ryder and Marvin Schenck sitting in for his wife Colleen Schenck. 

In her work with the kids Cathleen blended poetry writing, printmaking, book-binding, documentary photography and public speaking. Fellow teacher Nat Corey-Moran has team taught very successfully with Cathleen for several years. Lauren Keating has also supported Cathleen’s work by inviting exhibitions into the restaurant along with making her place available for special presentations by the students. Indeed it does take a village to educate and care for our children. 

Cathleen ended by sharing a moving and beautiful poem by Adelina Sanchez, one of her former Boonville High School students, who is now finishing up college at UC Davis. This a portion of a poem written while Adelina was an 8th grade student, about growing up in our community.

A Generation of Laborers

“I come from a place of abundant green fields where time and seasons are always watched, where family and friends never underestimate love. I’m from an isolated dwelling where green isn’t just a color but life, where the damp atmosphere isn’t always welcomed. I’m from a culture where food isn’t just a “thing,” where our kitchen has tortillas echas a mano, tamales de chile rojo and the drink that is favored by family, atole de maíz. I come from a generation of laborers, from a family where respect and love are never over-shadowed and where hard work is the ingredient that makes us who we are.”     

— Adelina Sanchez

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