A class of third graders watch a 68-year old woman with a monkey puppet. She’s teaching them how to stick burdock together to form statues. That woman is one of the most memorable teachers Washington county has ever seen: Mrs. Heidemarie Holmes-Heiss.
Mrs. Holmes-Hiess (also known as Mrs. HHH) was born in Austria in 1948. During this time Austria was occupied by American soldiers after World War Two. Due to her mother’s Prussian heritage, her family lost everything they had in the war, and had to start over from scratch. “My mother was determined to build a house right away. She needed roots,” Mrs. HHH recalled, “She kept building and rebuilding.”
Despite the challenges, art still managed to make it’s way into her life. “At fourteen, I watched a mountain ridge jump out at me in a dark room; and at sixteen, I began to form with clay and regularly visited a pottery.”
After finishing school, she moved to America to be a ski instructor. Only after this did she decide to become an art teacher.
Mrs. HHH is deeply passionate about children’s artwork, which helped her decide to become an elementary school teacher. “I love children’s art making; their unique and explicit expressions. Their spontaneity and originality with drawings and paintings fascinate me again and again. They have a natural sense of beauty, they’re storytellers, and they’re fearless in their imagination.”
Every student who has been taught by Mrs. HHH has a story to tell about her. “One class, she was showing us examples of classic art,” said Stephen Looke, EMES graduate of 2012, “and someone noticed that some of the art was upside down so they told her, and she said ‘Oh I’ve never noticed!’”