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Meet the Team: Elaine Kao, Visual Arts Teacher

Learn about Ms. Elaine Kao, who has been part of the GNS community since she began TOC-ing in art classes in November of last year. This year, she has moved to teaching Grade 6, 7 and 10 Visual Arts. Ms. Kao tells us about her interests in art, music and language and talks about her recently finished Masters! 
1. What made you want to be part of the GNS community? 
A few of my close friends graduated from GNS and they're some of the kindest, most generous people I know. Also, I was also excited to be able to teach each art class more than once a week so we can actually do a lot of creative and critical thinking!

2. How did you choose teaching as the right career path for you? 
I thought I would become an architect at one point, but I had always volunteered and worked at recreational centres teaching spring and summer art camps. After graduating high school, I completed three years of a Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Victoria, then decided to try out architecture and completed a two-year intensive Diploma of Technology in Architecture and Building Engineering at BCIT. Instead of continuing with another two years for a Bachelor of Architecture, I came back to finish my BFA and then went to the University of Lethbridge to complete the after degree two-year program for a Bachelor of Education! It's crazy; I've done a lot of years of school in a row.

3. What are some things you are really interested in? 
  • Art–I create something almost every day. I developed characters that show up in a lot of my artwork. Last year, I started a series of illustrations in which Dino, Panda and Lambie travel the world and explore architecture and cultures. You can check them out at my artist website www.dinoandpanda.com. My motto is to create artwork dedicated to making people smile every day. 
  • Music–I play piano and ukulele, and I am trying to find time to practice guitar and the guzheng (Chinese instrument) more. 
  • Language Learning–One of my life goals is to become fluent in 10 languages. At the moment my reading skills are pretty good in maybe six of the 10 languages. It's always hardest to speak!

4. What is something that most people don’t know about you? 
I have a Spotify playlist called "Fave Songs" and it's a weird mix of musicals, popera, Chinese, Japanese and Korean music, oldies, random songs in different languages, and lots of Disney songs. 

5. What do you like about living and working in Victoria?
I was born and raised here so I'm grateful to be able to continue living and working in Victoria. I love that it's a lively city without feeling overwhelming like some other big cities. We're surrounded by nature—watching the waves ebb and flow is super calming!

6. Congratulations on finishing your masters, tell us a bit about that journey.
The community of artist-teachers (including Ms.Sicotte) in my cohort became a family as we worked through the program. It's hard to sum up everything I learned from each of the cohort members. My focus was on STEAM and transdisciplinary education—the idea that learning experiences can be more meaningful when we consider all the other disciplines involved. I used my experience and interest in architecture to create architectural art and design units within the context of art class. Architecture is great because it involves math, science, humanities, critical and creative thinking to name a few. Here is the website I created to share what I learned and also units and projects for other educators to use as a resource: https://misselainekao.wixsite.com/steamwithmissk I'm always excited to learn about artists who combine science and art, and I'm hoping to collaborate more in order to continue adding STEAM and transdisciplinary units to the website! 
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