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470 PAIRS OF LITTLE HANDS

Story and Photography by Nicole Pettinger

Spearheading a colorful vision with intense passion and humbleness, Christian Housel is the new Principal of Eagle Elementary School of the Arts. With 23 years as an educator, and 16 years as an administrator, Housel, who is also a professional musician, is conducting a masterpiece of 470 little hands and minds under the orchestration of brilliant teachers. This opus’s performance space is the beige schoolhouse stretched up Eagle Road, just north of the thriving hub of downtown.

“We have a first-class staff here at EESA, high-spirited about teaching the whole child through the lens of creativity,” Housel says. “They focus on each individual child, unlike any staff I have ever worked with. This school is such a special place! I am so lucky to be here as the leader.”

Face2Face-2Housel has ambitious visions for the school’s arts mission, hoping to add a piano lab where 10-20 students can practice their keyboard skills. In addition to group piano instruction during the school day, the lab could also be used for after-school programs. Housel is asking for the community to help make this dream a reality. “I need to raise the money for the electronic lab. This is a great community; I know it will happen. We hope to have this in place for the beginning of next year.”

Another community partnership vision involves beautification projects for the campus. EESA students and staff will work with local artists to create integrated art including murals and mosaics by engaging our community and local Arts Commissions through these Artists-in-Residency programs, according to Housel.

Three projected efforts for this year are already planned:

1) The chain-link fence connecting the two levels of the school will become a river scene. Students will help place individual colored plexiglass squares into each square of the fence, catching the sunlight, dancing blues and greens across the property.

2) Origami eagle installation, using paper arts.

3) Character Wall: As you enter the upper property, a mosaic of core values will greet you. Surrounding each trait, each class will artistically express it in a mural.

“We want to show our community through creativity what our core values are. Each year, a grade level will be responsible for their portion of the wall and one of the traits,” Housel explains.

The traits are:

Diligence, Friendliness,

Generosity, Compassion,

Tolerance, Courtesy, Self Discipline,

Honesty, and Reliability

Housel’s smile and energy are empowering. “Our performing arts community has a rich tradition of dramatic productions over the years. I look to add more dramatic opportunities for students including dedicated instructional day, one being dance. Ultimately, the arts are the vehicle our school will use to help us achieve creative and academic goals,” he says. “Our hope is to feed enthusiastic art students on to the new Idaho Fine Arts Academy just down the road.”

As Housel pushed a piano to mid-court in the school’s gymnasium at the end of our interview, sunlight filled the space like a natural spotlight. Housel sat at the bench and began to play full-soul.