New Prague native earns B.F.A. in Art Education at UWRF
Alyssa “Aly” Olsson, 23, discovered her love for art at Inver Hills Community College. Aly started attending Inver Hills as a junior at New Prague High School in the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program.
“I didn’t like art before I came to Inver,” Aly said. “I wanted to be an English teacher until I took a ceramics class with Wendy Olson, an art instructor at the college. I loved the class. I found my career path by combining my desire to be a teacher with my new passion for art.”
Along with her generals, Aly took three ceramics classes and one drawing class at Inver Hills. Wendy guided her decision to continue her education at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. In 2017, Aly graduated from UWRF with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Art Education.
Today, Aly is a K–12 art teacher at Tri-City United Public Schools, which serve students in Lonsdale, Montgomery and Le Center, Minnesota. She teaches students in every grade: 7th and 8th graders five days a week, K–6 students one day a week, and a mix of 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders five days a week. She teaches at Tri-City schools in Montgomery and Le Center.
“It has been a privilege to meet so many wonderful and talented students at Inver Hills. Some of my students enter my class to fill a goal for their liberal arts degree without much interest in the arts and end up as teachers down the road.
“Aly is one of those that sticks in my mind because she is such a kind and giving person. I knew Aly would be successful as a teacher when she told me that she wanted to go into art education. She was always excited about art and wanted to share that gift with her peers as a student, and I have no doubt that she is inspiring future artists now as a teacher.”
— Wendy Olson, Ceramics Faculty, Inver Hills Community College
More about Aly…
The day of the IHN interview, Aly bought house in St. Peter, Minnesota. Her moving day is scheduled for this August. Aly is engaged to be married and her fiancé, Tyler Nelson, is a former UPS driver looking to start a new career in St. Peter. The wedding is set to take place elopement-style next year in Banff, a world-famous town near Lake Louise inside Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
“I’ve been telling Tyler my new married name will be Alyssa Nelsson, but he is not amused,” Aly said with a smile.
Aly’s dad, Jeff, is the maintenance director at Cambria in Le Sueur, Minnesota; her mother, Andrea, is an executive closer for a title company. Aly has two siblings, a sister, Emily, 25, who works for Andrea, and Alex, 18, who is studying engineering at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
In her free time, Aly enjoys gardening and working on ceramic art projects. She has her own pottery wheel—and her new home in St. Peter has the perfect room, one with plenty of natural light—for throwing clay.
¹ Aly is a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.
The benefits of studying art at Inver Hills:
Inver Hills is where I found my love of art. The professors are supportive and want to help you with the next stage of whatever it is you want to accomplish. I have Inver Hills to thank for everything that came after and for where I am right now. Before I started at Inver, I was on a path that I wasn’t sure about, but I found my passion with the guidance of my professors.
Aly Olsson, Inver Alumna, UWRF Graduate, K–12 Art Teacher at Tri-City United Public Schools
Aly Olsson • Q & A
What is one thing every art student should know?
Be consistent and kind to everyone you meet; references are everything! Create good ones.
What is your favorite artistic medium?
What do you like best about teaching art?
Watching students walk into my room and forget about anything that is weighing them down—even if it’s just for an hour.
Three words that describe you as an art educator:
STUDENT-CENTERED. KIND. DRIVEN.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching art?
Teaching art isn’t challenging; it’s the outside influences that affect a student and get in the way.
What advice would you give students thinking about making art or art education their career path?
Art education is so much more than art: 5 percent of your day is art; 95 percent is connecting with and focusing on students and their specific needs.
Who is your favorite artist?
Devon Gelhar: She is a great person and more passionate than any artist I’ve ever seen.
What is your greatest strength as an art teacher?
Connecting to my students.
One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:
Aly Olsson • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Dance and weightlifting
- Place you would most like to visit: China
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Hiked in the Swiss Alps
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Buy a house 2) Buy a great Dane 3) Create a ceramic studio
- Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Game of Thrones
- Best movie you’ve seen lately: Avengers: Endgame
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Travel as much as possible
- Your national bird if you could have one: Parrot
- Dream occupation: Potter
- Person you would most like to meet: Jenna Marbles
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Chainsaw art
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Climate change
Learn more about Education Foundations at Inver Hills by contacting:
Teacher Education Faculty
Teacher Education Faculty
Learn more about the A.F.A in Art and art courses at Inver Hills by contacting:
Painting and Drawing Faculty