Every day at Lewiston Elementary, Mandi Sigg uses creativity to help reinforce concepts that are being taught in the classroom. Sigg, Lewiston’s 2021-22 Teacher of the Year, takes on the challenge of incorporating ideas that will help students see their education differently. She teaches art as part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program (BTSALP), which provides arts-integrated instruction to increase comprehension in every school subject.
Sigg has worked at Lewiston Elementary for six years and has also spent the last three years teaching art in the morning at North Cache Middle School. As an art teacher, she appreciates the opportunity to teach every grade level, starting with preschool and going up through middle school. This has allowed her to make lasting connections with her students as she watches them grow over the years.
As she plans her lessons, Sigg communicates regularly with classroom teachers so she can understand what students may need extra help understanding. She then creates projects to help students grasp the concepts differently. For example, a recent project had students mix ¼ part yellow paint with ¼ part red paint to help them understand fractions. In a different lesson, sixth-grade students who were learning about The Great Depression looked at photography during that time and then wrote poems that went along with the artwork from that era.
“I can’t say enough about creativity and how it goes into every aspect of your life,” Sigg explained. Over her six years of teaching at Lewiston, Sigg has seen art shape her students as they learn longterm problem-solving skills when their art doesn’t turn out the way they planned and have to find a new approach. “You see this over and over with people who hire for jobs; they want creative thinkers, everybody wants someone who can think outside the box,” Sigg noted. “There’s no other way to try and do that than through the arts.”
Quilting and sewing have been a love of Sigg’s since she was a little girl. That love inspired Sigg to write a grant proposal for a quilting project for her students. She wanted Lewiston Elementary to have some more permanent art pieces for the school. The Logan Quilt Guild donated batting and time to help Sigg assemble the quilts. These quilts have been displayed in Lewiston, at Utah State University, and across Utah.
This year, each grade level created fabric squares using different techniques. As first graders learned about cacti and adaptations in the desert, they used fabric markers to create desert scenes. Second graders used a fabric dyeing technique called batik to create abstract animals and their habitats. Third graders painted with acrylic to show tiny details of fossils from around the earth as they studied fossils that have been found around Utah. In fourth grade, students learned about the sun’s effect on our planet and ecosystems by using the photographic process of cyanotype. Students were able to see the impact of the sun’s ultraviolet rays in real-time. Lewiston’s fifth graders used the ancient art process of shibori dying to observe chemical changes. As the green dye oxidized, it changed to blue. Sixth graders study the moon’s motion and were inspired to use a bleaching stencil technique to capture different phases of the moon.
Leslie Burton, Lewiston Elementary’s principal, appreciates how Sigg makes Lewiston better and more beautiful with the art that hangs in the hallways. “She brings out the creativity in all students. Lewiston really hit the jackpot when we hired Mandi to be our BTSALP art teacher.”
Sigg (with Lewiston Principal Leslie Burton and board member Kathy Christiansen) was honored at the Jan. 27th Board Meeting