Introducing Natalie Brandhorst: Upper School Art Teacher Returns to Woodward
Beyond the Gate spoke with Natalie Brandhorst, new Upper School art teacher, about her career as well as her impressions of rejoining the Woodward community during this unusual time
Beyond the Gate: First, tell us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up and attend college and where did you teach before WA?
Natalie Brandhorst: I was born at Fort McPherson here in Atlanta. As a military child we moved around quite a bit, ultimately landing in Carrollton, Georgia. For my undergrad, I attended the University of West Georgia, where I studied humanistic psychology, sculpture, and ceramics. I completed my teaching certification at Georgia State University, which led me to my first teaching job at Woodward’s Busey Campus, teaching K-6. Back then, I interviewed with Chris Greenway (retired head of the Visual Arts Department) and Andy Cunningham (current head of the Visual Arts Department).
Later, I accepted a position at Grady High School and thrived there for five years. I met my husband, who was a student at Georgia State getting his masters in education, and then went on sabbatical to obtain my master’s at SCAD Savannah. In 2002, I began my journey teaching art at North Atlanta High School. I also taught in the evenings as an adjunct professor at Art Institute of Atlanta, Atlanta College of Art, and Georgia State University. In 2006, I accepted a full-time painting professorship at SCAD Atlanta, and returned to North Atlanta in 2007, where I remained until Westminster knocked on my door in 2017. Teaching middle school there was quite an awakening. So, when the high school painting position here at Woodward opened, I could not refuse. Mr. Greenway and Mr. Cunningham have been colleagues for more than two decades, and our schools have actively competed in local as well as statewide competitions including the Governor's Honors Program, Atlanta Drawing Competition, and Scholastic Art Awards. The caliber and spirit of the fine arts program at Woodward is revered locally as well as nationally. It’s such a treat and honor to finally return and work with such a great team.
BG: What is your approach to teaching art?
NB: Teaching has been a lifelong path of learning, about one’s self, one’s community, and the world around us. My challenge as an educator is to help others maintain their curiosity and find their passion in learning, pursue it with vigor, and ultimately create their own visual language.
BG: What are your impressions so far of the Woodward community, and what has it been like to start during a pandemic, teaching to both in-person and remote students?
NB: So far, I have been warmly embraced by the open-minded, forward-thinking, graceful community at Woodward. All of us are facing the unknown with this pandemic, and all of us are showing adaptability, compassion, and innovation. Trying to be comfortable with being uncomfortable is easier said than done. I am thankful for the opportunity to be surrounded by such talented and loving people.
BG: Finally, is there anything you would like to share about your personal life and what you enjoy doing outside of teaching and your artwork?
NB: I absolutely love foraging for wild ginseng, berries, and mushrooms. I am actually licensed to sell and distribute 20 different species of mushrooms in five southeastern states.