Art teacher Heather Guthrie leaves an impact on students lives before retiring


Guthrie gives one of her advanced students assistance on an art project. Long time art teacher Heather Guthrie gives pointers to one of her advanced students, senior Chloe Braedt, as she works on a project for the class

Molly Balison, Web Staff

For most students, the end of the school year means a short summer before returning back to the grind the following September, but for art teacher Heather Guthrie, it means a whole new chapter of life. After working at Sandpoint High for 15 years, this will be Guthrie’s last quarter before she retires.

Guthrie conveys that her favorite memories as a teacher “come from the unexpected, special relationships and experiences I have had with students.”

Guthrie admits that she has learned a great deal about herself and about helping others through her career including crucial qualities to obtain and the importance of hard work. She believes that she has a special job and discloses that she will miss her students. “I get to guide students toward a creative path that exists in all of us. What we do in the art room is difficult and challenging and mirrors life. There is a self-awareness and self-discovery that permeates any art project, where heart and soul get exposed.” Guthrie said.

As Guthrie leaves behind her legacy and the artistic environment she has created, many wonder who will be stepping up to fill her shoes. A possible replacement is the student teacher from the University of Montana, Marié McRae, who has been shadowing Guthrie over the quarter as she has learned valuable lessons from Guthrie and even practiced teaching some higher level classes with and without supervision.

“I hope to follow in her footsteps and continue her legacy she has left to this high school and build on the strengths and resilience of this art program to empower, inspire, and spark that creativity in young artists to come.” said McRae.

As McRae works to obtain her art teaching certification, Guthrie has been gradually equipping McRae with resources, knowledge, and techniques she needs to be a successful teacher from conducting step-by-step demonstrations to evaluating and critiquing students work.

“This has been such an enriching and profoundly educational experience,” said McRae, “I know [it] will adequately prepare me to be a strong and knowledgeable future art teacher. I am thankful for this opportunity in working with Ms. Guthrie and could not have imagined a better person to have student taught with.”

Acting as a student teacher, McRae has observed Guthrie’s considerate, caring personality.  McRae praised Guthrie saying, “She has a wealth of ideas about art, teaching, technique, and solid ways in helping students be the best they can be in their lives and in their artwork.”

McRae praised Guthrie for her considerate and caring personality and said, “Ms. Guthrie sparks students’ aspirations to pursue their own academic and career goals in art–or whatever their dreams are. She truly brings out the best in all her students.”

When asked if she would continue doing art throughout her retirement, Guthrie happily responded, “I have been an artist and a naturalist all my life and do art nearly every day so I do not think that will change. I always have an ongoing project. It is just a part of who I am.”

Guthrie has positively impacted each one of her art students who know and love her for her humor, passion, and dedication to her students. Her genuine heart will be dearly missed by her students who have advanced  their art skills because of her teaching and guidance in and out of the classroom.

“I believe I am doing the next right thing by handing the paint brush over to someone new.” said Guthrie.