Onalaska teacher uses past to inspire creativity

While many schools focus on bringing in new technology to the classroom, April’s Top Notch Teacher is finding ways to keep the past alive.

While she introduces her second through fifth-grade students to art forms that are all but lost, she’s making sure her students also see the value of new creations.

Sounds from the past float from Pat Stellflue’s art classroom at Eagle Bluff Elementary School in Onalaska.

“They have to dance to the music and follow the music otherwise they might have to dance with me,” said Stellflue.

In Stellflue’s classroom, you learn more than your primary colors.

To catch her students attention and teach them about famous artists at the same time, she’ll call out an artist’s first name.


“It’s the last name and it’s the famous artist,” said third-grade student Cody.

“That tells her that we’re quiet and we have our eyes on her and we’re listening,” said Lily Tobert.

“We know Pablo Picasso,” said Cody.

“We know a lot about them,” said Tobert.

But music and artists are not where the history lessons ends, Stellflue also gives the kids hands-on experience with art forms that are all but lost.

“We inherited that loom. The children are going to be ripping some more material and making the rugs. It’s a wonderful thing for kids to understand how the weaving process was many years ago,” said Stellflue.

While art history is woven into the classroom, it’s also a place where brand-new creations are encouraged.

“I want them to understand that the creative process is there for everyone. There is no real right or wrong,” said Stellflue.

“We can make what we want when she says you can do your own thing and stuff,” said Tobert.

“Art is a really important subject with core curriculum being such an important thing. Children just need a place to do a hands-on project and be successful and have a comfort level that makes them successful in other areas of their learning,” said Stellflue.

And from what her students say, her classroom is just that, a safe haven where creativity can flourish.

“She’s kind. Everybody knows that,” said Cody.

“I know that we’re always going to have fun with her,” said Tobert.

Stefflue has been teaching at Eagle Bluff Elementary School for more than 20 years.

She says the students make each day so fun, she hasn’t had one bad day in the past two decades.