In preparation for the start of a promising new school year, we want to highlight some very special additions to our UICS family. Julia Mandl joins us as the new Art Coordinator at UICS-Metro Center. Her eclectic experience and unique vision to continue expanding the reach of the arts beyond the walls of the classroom will bring an enriching perspective to our arts-infused curriculum at UICS and the community at large. Check out this week’s Q&A session with “Ms. Julia” to learn more. 

Ms. Julia, can you share with us a bit about yourself and what you would like the rest of the community to know about you?

“Yes! So, I have been teaching art in some capacity for the past 10 years. After graduating from K-State with a bachelor’s degree in Arts Education, I taught K-12 art at a local private school and worked as an art instructor during youth summer camps. Most recently, I worked in the Shawnee Mission School District as an Elementary Art Teacher. I live in the KC area with my husband Brian and our two dogs: Maisie and Penny! On weekends, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, going on long walks, and exploring our city. We love visiting the Nelson together, especially their mini golf installations in the summer. The Plaza and Westport Art Fairs are mainstays for us each year, and we are always looking to catch live music around the city any chance we get”. 

Tell us more about your own creative path. What has most inspired you?

“I have loved art for as long as I can remember! I spent my childhood illustrating stories, building dollhouses, and getting out my art supplies any chance I got. Fast forward twenty-some years, I am still as in love with art as ever! In my free time, I enjoy watercolor painting, sewing, and creating house or pet portraits. A lot of times, my students inspire my work in the way they create without boundaries. My ultimate dream is to someday illustrate a children’s book”. 

What led you to become interested in pursuing the mission at UICS?

“I was drawn to UICS because of the incredible things I have seen them do for young students in the community. I strongly believe that art is a discipline that can assist the growth of all students, whether it be cognitive, motor, or social-emotional development. When I came across UICS, I was blown away by the fact that the arts are an integral part of the curriculum – not just a “special” or “additional activity”. The learning opportunities that UICS gives to their students, staff, and community is incredible! I feel blessed to be a part of such an inspiring program.” 

Can you elaborate on your vision for the arts at UICS-Metro Center? What would you like to see take shape and come to life? 

“At UICS-Metro Center, I look forward to establishing an arts program that is inclusive to all learners. I am so excited to coordinate arts events and opportunities not only for our students, but our staff and community members as well. I believe that art at Metro Center should be shared outside the walls of our building. We have such an incredible art community here in Kansas City, and I hope to tap into that by collaborating with local artists/art services to bring our students a diverse art experience. Also, my vision is for art to be an integral part of our school community; I see art as a learning tool that can be utilized across multiple academic and social/emotional disciplines. I am so excited to expose our students and community to as many different art forms as possible, including visual, music, theater/dramatics, poetry, and more!”