Medin dedicates 42 years of her life to BHS
Brainerd High School (BHS) Art Teacher Beth Medin has spent most of her life helping students bring out their creativity.
Medin — who started with the Brainerd School District in the fall of 1972 — has reached thousands of students during the past 42 years she has been with the district. And at the end of this school year, she will say her goodbyes and retire.
Medin, who turned 65 Monday, said through the years she has had a lot of her students come back to see her. She may have students contact her this week as it is National Teacher Appreciation Week.
“Watching kids create art is a gift,” Medin said. “Watching these young minds ... they never cease to amaze me.”
Medin said often times she showed her students a sample art piece and then had them draw or paint it.
“They are all looking at the same thing, yet they all create something different.
“After retirement I will need to come back here to sub to interact with these kids.”
Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo said, “Beth Medin has worked with students from every kind of background and she has challenged them to learn more about visual arts and thus about themselves. It is a remarkable thing to be a teacher, a remarkable thing to contribute to the artistic and personal development of a child, and a remarkable gift to our community that Beth shared her talents for 42 years. We will miss her tremendously.”
Brainerd High School Principal Andrea Rusk said, “Beth Medin has served not only her students but the art community for more than 40 years. She is committed to pulling out every art thread from each student. She has a passion for the arts and has demonstrated through her work with students that all students can be artistic — it is finding the inner artist within.
“Beth is humorous, candid, committed and caring. She will be missed at BHS.”
Medin graduated from St. Francis School in Little Falls in 1967. She graduated from St. Cloud State University (SCSU) with a bachelor’s degree in education in the fall of 1971. She completed her student teaching in December of 1971 in Monterrey, Mexico. In the late ‘80s Medin earned her master’s degree from SCSU.
Medin, who initially had no major selected, said in the first years of college she took all the classes she enjoyed, which were visual arts classes. Then it hit her — she wanted to be a teacher.
“It was just one of those things, where it came to me late in college,” said Medin. “My dad was always telling me ‘Be a teacher,’ because it is the perfect job to be a mom and he was right.
“My mother was a visual artist.”
When Medin graduated the only school that was hiring art teachers was Brainerd. She said Lance Hanfler, who was an art teacher and an athletic director in Brainerd, and Harvey Shew, the principal at the former Franklin Junior High, helped her get the job, which started out part-time and a year after became full-time. Medin said throughout her entire career she was an art teacher first at Franklin with Hanfler and also taught at the former Washington Middle School. She served the longest part of her career at BHS, where she currently teaches pottery, painting, drawing and self portfolio classes.
When asked about what art medium she enjoys teaching best, Medin said, “I’m more into teaching art then teaching the curriculum.
“Art on my own would be water colors, pencils or ink.”
Medin said the most challenging part of her career has been the politics and money.
“We’ve had to make due in the tough times,” said Medin. “We managed. It’s frustrating when you see classes disappear. It never occurred to me that there would be fewer opportunities for students. When class sizes dropped the staff would have to be cut. It happened a few times in my career.”
Medin said her biggest achievement in her career would be seeing students, whom people thought would not succeed, be successful. Medin said art is a great equalizer. There are students who get straight As in all their classes but not in art; then there are students who may be flunking out of all their classes but art, and they only show up to school so they can go to their art classes.
“Students tell me that their art class is their refuge,” Medin said.
The most frustrating thing, Medin said, is seeing a student who has so much potential but who does not want to do anything.
Medin said she has had many successful students pursue art careers, including Karl Egenberger, who has been a designer for Max Factor and Disney; and Samantha French, an artist who lives in New York City.
“It makes me happy to know that many of my art students are doing well,” said Medin.
“I cannot thank the community enough for providing the best kids, they have been such a joy for me.
“I have been so blessed to be here teaching these kids.”
Medin lives in Fifty Lakes with her husband Carl. They have three children and she has three stepchildren.
When asked what she will do next?
“Whatever I want,” she said. “I will do some art and be more involved in my church. I may go back to school. I love being a student. I may take some classes in theology or spirituality. I also love the outdoors.”