“I love my students,” says warm-hearted art teacher

Art teacher Sophie Rasmussen has been chosen by administrators as the Taft Union High School teacher of the year for 2018. She will represent Taft High at the Kern County competition in May. Two teachers and an alternate will advance to the state teacher of the year competition.

Rasmussen, warm-hearted and known for putting her students first, has taught at the high school for seven years. She started an art club and has had students compete locally and nationally. She takes students to to the Via Arte Street Painting Festival at the Marketplace in Bakersfield each October.

“I love my students,” she said. “I like to create an environment where they feel comfortable taking creative risks. I want them to have their own voice by creating something and defending it. I am very project oriented: two-dimensional art in drawing and paint in the fall; 3D ceramics and sculpture in the spring. I teach students the fundamentals of drawing, color theory, how to create the illusion of three-dimensional space and the principles of design. It’s good to get them to be observers, observers of life and appreciators of their work and appreciators of other people’s work. They build the necessary language to objectively view and critique all forms of design.

“I try to establish a rapport with them. I have devoted my time to my kids and my profession. It’s been rewarding. It’s been great here at Taft.”

“She’s really nice, very helpful and enthusiastic. She cares about her students,” said Brendan Manuz, a junior in her cartoon drawing class.

Besides teaching art, she has served as an assistant golf and soccer coach.

Her personal life is a portrait of perseverance and character. A teen bride, she married her high school sweetheart, Chad, and they had three children in four years. Just as they were building their life together, he unexpectedly died of cancer at 22. Now 42, she has raised their three children successfully on her own, while earning bachelor degrees in liberal studies and art, a teaching credential and masters degrees in student affairs and school counseling, all at California State University, Bakersfield. All three are in college. Mosiah, 23, studying marketing and business at Sacramento City College; England Ty, 22, studying electrical engineering at Bakersfield College; and, Liberty, 20, studying geology at BC.

Rasmussen attend Foothill High School where she participated in just about every club and sport. She was band president, ASB vice president, art club vice president, a four-year member of the Future Farmers of America, in the Gifted And Talented Education program and she took AP classes. She played left forward in soccer for four years and tennis for two. Consequently, she knew a lot of students from a variety of cliches and was elected homecoming queen, winter formal queen and prom queen.

She said many other teachers were deserving of the award and was surprised. “It’s awesome to get acknowledged for what you do.”