Teacher’s love of art brings her back to IMS


Local News

August 21, 2018 - 11:24 AM

It’s taken Emily Sigg six years to achieve her goal of becoming an art teacher but she’s still a little surprised at how easily it all fell into place.
Sigg said studying art has always inspired her to do her best. Of note, was her education under Iola Middle School art teacher Joyce Atkinson.
Sigg graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2011. At the time, she didn’t plan to teach, but found opportunities to use a fine arts degree limited.
After she and her husband, Austin, moved back to Iola to be closer to family, she took a job as a substitute teacher and freshman girls basketball coach, then high school volleyball head coach.
It was then that she realized teaching was her call, but would need more education. As she talked to area colleges, she learned the best option was the new Transition to Teaching program. She chose an online program through Fort Hays State University.
Transition to Teaching is an alternative pathway to obtaining a teaching license and is offered through the Kansas Department of Education. Mid-career professionals who have a bachelor’s degree or higher can obtain a restricted teaching license in a related field, and teach while they work toward a degree. At the end of two years, Sigg will earn a master’s degree in communication.
She submitted her transcript for an evaluation six years ago. After that, it was a matter of waiting for the right time to find the perfect teaching position.
In the meantime, she and Austin started a family. Daughter Elliott was born six years ago, followed by son Cohen, age 2 1/2, and daughter Nellie, who will soon be 1.
Sigg owned Fifty50, a retail business on the square where she designed and sold T-shirts. She later took a job in graphic design for the Iola Register, which allowed her to practice her artistic skills in a digital world. But as Elliott approached the start of kindergarten, Sigg knew it was time to figure out a way to get back into school herself. She wanted to be on the same schedule as Elliott. And she wanted to teach.
So at the beginning of 2018, Sigg made a New Year’s resolution. This would be the year she became a teacher.
That’s when everything started to fall into place.
She took the required assessment test in January, the final step before finding a job. Then, she learned longtime IMS art teacher Joyce Atkinson was retiring at the end of 2017-18 school year. Finally, she had a place to work while she completed the Transition to Teach requirements.
Not only was it a job, it was the right job. Sigg grew up in Iola and attended Iola Middle School in the same building where she now works. She studied art under Mrs. Atkinson in the very room where she now teaches. Before school started, she met with her former teacher to learn about the classroom and projects Mrs. Atkinson had done in the past.
It’s a legacy Sigg doesn’t take lightly.
“I have some very big shoes to fill,” Sigg said. “She had so many great projects. All the kids loved her. All of my classes are full, which is a reflection of her and kids choosing to be in her class.”
Sigg plans to introduce a few new projects, like some sort of fiber art project such as weaving. She’s excited to work with middle school students who are just starting to explore their individual interests after the basic introduction to art in elementary school.
And now that she’s achieved her primary goal in becoming an art teacher, Sigg wants to let the students lead her in new directions, too.
“Art can broaden your horizons,” she said. “It can change the way you view things and expose you to different cultures. It can make you see another person differently. It’s limitless.”


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