The Tucson native reflects on 10 years of teaching art, the lives she’s changed, the lives that have changed her.
Third-generation Tucson native Heidi Hoscheidt is an avid hiker and backpacker. She hand paints used cowgirl boots to sell in her online shop. Recently, she bought a teardrop trailer and has exciting plans to adventure with it up the Pacific coast.
And, oh, by the way — she’s in her 10th year teaching art education.
Like many of Arizona’s teachers, Hoscheidt loves her job so much that she can’t fathom pursuing a career in anything else. The Sonoran Desert lover knew she wanted to be a teacher at just 6 years old.
“My mom caught me lecturing my 2-year-old little sister. I absolutely knew at an early age that I wanted to work with children and make a difference in their lives,” she says.
A University of Arizona wildcat, Hoscheidt treasured her Tucson college days, where she gave local students art lessons through Wildcat Art Camp. She taught for seven years in the Sunnyside Unified School District and one year in Washington D.C. before settling into Tucson’s Vail School District last year. Working with K-8 students, Hoscheidt’s lessons “encompass discipline-based art education, multicultural art and cross-curricular topics.” She’s also teaming with S.T.E.A.M. educators to give science-based art lessons.
Hoscheidt is, to put it lightly, a powerful advocate for her subject. “Art is a vital part of education in general. It needs to be supported in every school,” she says.
Passionate about providing her students with avenues to express themselves, Hoscheidt explains that “through art, students can learn other subjects, like science, math, geography, and history.”
Personally, Hoscheidt’s journey with art started with illustration, which led her to fall in love with metal casting, ceramics, and sculpting. “I try to let my students experience a variety of materials,” she says. “I believe if kids get to try diverse media in the art room, they will be more prepared for future projects.”
Hoscheidt’s fire for teaching art burns brightly, fueled by the coals of incredibly meaningful moments accumulated over the last decade. One that stands out in particular came just her second year in the profession.
“A fifth grader came back to visit me after graduating elementary school. He had a very difficult time with learning in general, but was an incredible artist. He would create amazing cartoons in class, and I would display them for everyone to see.” Her support made the difference of a lifetime. “I will never forget him walking into my art room after school and telling me he had decided not to join a gang because he wanted to pursue his art career. He hugged me and thanked me for giving him the courage to follow his dreams. It was a wonderful moment.”
All of her special notes from students are set aside in a scrapbook that Hoscheidt opens when she’s overwhelmed and needs a guaranteed smile. “One of my favorite, recent letters was from a child that wrote, “’Ms. Heidi’s art room is where dreams come true.’ He added a large rainbow with my face above his note.”
While she’s had 10 years of scrapbook-worthy moments, Hoscheidt remembers oh-so-well what her first year as a teacher was like: “amazing, stressful, and overwhelming. It was a lot of trial and error with classroom management strategies and teaching brand new art lessons. I realized it was OK to make mistakes.”
A decade into the career she chose as a child, Hoscheidt feels just as much enthusiasm now as she did her first year.
“As educators, we should constantly be evaluating the way we teach on a regular basis,” she says. “In order to be the best educators we can be, it’s essential to try new things, stay updated on current educational trends, and stay fresh.”
Still, this educator knows all too well the prevalence of teacher burnout. “I have learned not to say ‘yes’ to everything,” she says of this particularly hard life lesson. Hoscheidt’s first years will probably sound familiar — working 11-hour days and participating in seven school committees.
What she learned is this: It’s essential to learn how to balance teaching with your life.
“Saying ‘no’ on occasion is OK. Teaching is such a stressful job. On a daily basis I feel like a nurse, police officer, counselor, and cheerleader! It is really important to take time for yourself and not feel guilty about doing so,” she shares.
Another kernel of Hoscheidt-wisdom? Strike the right balance with digital tools.
“I find classroom technology to be both a blessing and a curse,” Hoscheidt admits — something most teachers can relate to. “Students rely so much on social media for communication, praise, and acceptance. Last year, one of my talented middle school students was bullied on Instagram after posting some of her drawings. She came to me and we chatted about how to deal with this issue. It opened my eyes to the present situation we face as a society dealing with Internet bullying, abuse, and negativity.”
Hoscheidt teaches her students to pause in the moment and see life from another perspective. Last year, she brought her second graders outside for a period to observe and draw saguaros. “They loved being given the chance to stop and see their playground in a different way,” she explains.
More than anything, Hoscheidt hopes her passion for art, community, and creativity are visible — and contagious — to her students.
Like she tells her students, “It is extremely important to stay inquisitive about our world and to be creative problem solvers. Art isn’t just about painting or drawing, it’s about looking at the world through eyes that appreciate beauty.”