When you’re new in school, birthdays can be tough. You’re not always sure anyone will notice or care. But on her birthday, Collegiate’s new Lower School art teacher Heather Bruneau discovered that Collegiate is not just any school.
“One of my 1st Graders drew a picture of me on my birthday,” she said. “I have it hanging by my desk. The students at Collegiate are the best! They have made me feel so welcomed and appreciated in our campus community.”
Ms. Bruneau had been teaching art for several years at Northstar Academy, a nonprofit Richmond area school serving children with disabilities, when she found out about Collegiate’s Visual and Performing Arts department.
“I am in love with this department,” she said. “It is a pivotal part of the student experience and is evident all across campus. I love that our School embraces the significant role the arts play in student success.”
In particular, she is excited to work with the Lower School’s Studio 2 program this year. Each fall, the service learning program employs art to introduce Lower School students to the culture, school, families, holidays, religion and rituals of students in countries as far flung as Cameroon, Nepal, Guatemala, Ireland and Turkey. For Ms. Bruneau, a self-proclaimed Army brat whose family moved often when she was growing up, it is the intersection of two passions: wanderlust and art.
“I have loved art as long as I can remember,” she said. “As a student, I loved art and English because both allowed me to consider my creative side, to dream and to make connections between myself and my world,” she said.
Besides teaching at Northstar Academy, Ms. Bruneau has worked as a visual arts instructor at the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC), an online art instructor for the virtual education program K12 and an art therapist for members of Petersburg’s aging and disabled community through the Art-On-Wheels program. While living in the San Francisco Bay area in California, Ms. Bruneau taught art at Arroyo High School. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in art education and illustration from Virginia Commonwealth University.
As an art major, Ms. Bruneau was mentored by Dr. David Burton, a now-retired art education professor at VCU. She is guided still by his perspectives as a teacher.
“He built relationships with his students and inspired a passion to create and think critically,” said Ms. Bruneau. “He found that thing that you are so personally passionate about and helped you polish it so that it shines.” – Valerie Hubbard '77