Studio Batavia Visual Arts Boosters
Studio Batavia Visual ArtsBoosters


Studio-Batavia Visual Arts is supported by the Art Department at Batavia High School and Rotolo Middle Schools.

Board of Directors

President:         Mandy Williams -

Vice President:       Kristina Shumaker -


Treasurer:          Christine Fleury -


School Representatives

Dawn Zalkus, Andrea Schindlbeck, Jennifer Melendez

RMS:  Jenna McNight, Melanie Meyer

Dawn Zalkus  My love for art came first from a love for drama.  Though it was quickly established that I wasn't meant for the stage it did push me into a new outlet for my creativity as I started spending all my time before and after school in my high school art classroom.  Then at 16 I fell in "love" with clay and met a mentor Deeks Carroll, my ceramics teacher.    I had a clear vision from that time forward that I wanted to be a high school ceramics teacher.  I went to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana to earn my BFA in Art Education. Each term I was attending college if I wasn't in a ceramics course I would make sure I had lab access by taking non-credit courses to hone my throwing and sculpting abilities.  After graduating, I taught art at a middle school for two years, but decided to return to U of I as a graduate teaching assistant and MA candidate in Art Education.  My graduate studies changed my outlook on teaching completely.  I wanted to instill ideas and themes into my students' work.  For the first time dialogue between myself, my student and their artwork came to the forefront.  I accidentally landed in Batavia shortly after graduating and it was a perfect fit.  I finally was the ceramics teacher I had waited so long to be as well I was sharing ideas with my students due to a fabulous conceptual curriculum we have been developing.   Six years later, I am still at Batavia and know there is no other school that I would want to teach at; I am proud of everything we have accomplished as a department and am thankful for a school and community that gives us the ability and support to grow art programs like Empty Bowls, Rock the Runway and the Fine Arts Festival. Today I am still in "love" with clay and most of my students will tell you how I taught them to "love" the clay as well. 

Andrea Schindlbeck  When I was a little girl I wanted to be an artist.  But people said "no...what do you want to be when you grow know...for a job?"  So I said I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to help people.  It's funny how life, if you let it, leads you to where you were always meant to be because now I get to do both.  I get to be an artist and I get to help people.  I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BFA degree in visual communications.  I love design...everything about it...from type and color to clothes and furniture.  Within a month of graduating I got my dream job.  I was a designer for Schafer Associates Inc, which specialized in environmental design.  This meant that we designed retail and corporate spaces.  So I was lucky enough to work with architects, interior designers, and draftsman creating everything from posters and packaging to cash wraps and lighting.  After a few years, I wanted something more so I pursued a career in Art Education. I earned a Teaching Certificate from Elmhurst College and my MA degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Aurora University.  Through my MA program I worked on developing conceptual art lessons that encourage students to add layers of meaning to their work.  I want my students to create pieces that are personal to them; pieces that are authentic artworks and not just school projects.  When students are given the opportunity to show us how they see the world, they not only learn how to create meaning, they learn how to find meaning and to make connections.  The arts have the potential to uplift and push people and culture forward in a positive direction.  They allow us to problem solve and to create what we want the world to be. I love being in the classroom.  We share ideas, struggle together and laugh a lot.  I continue to do freelance design and photography work and have participated in gallery shows in the area.

Jennifer Melendez

"There are many defining moments in one’s life that set the path for his or her future. One of my defining moments happened in high school when I realized I wanted to be a teacher. I was a sophomore at the time and helping fellow classmates in a peer-tutoring program at my high school. It felt great being able to mentor others and see them overcome their struggles. This passion eventually married with my love for art. I spent countless hours after school in open studio advancing my artwork, helping my art teacher with various tasks around the room, and giving advise to other students working. Before long, I enrolled at DePaul University’s Art Education bachelor’s program where I solidified my love for art and teaching. After graduating from DePaul University in 2009, I started teaching at Batavia High School. It has been such an amazing and rewarding position being a teacher here. I absolutely love working with my students and enjoy teaching them about art. My greatest joy is helping students who don’t think they’re “good” at art realize that they too are an artist. It’s my goal for each student to grow as an artist, leave my class feeling accomplished with their work, and be able to feed their soul through art!"


Jenna McNight  While growing up in Batavia I fell in love with creating art. I went away to school to do "something" in art and came upon teaching. I immediately fell in love with that and knew that I wanted to ignite the passion and joy I get out of art into others. Teaching was the perfect way. I was very fortunate to have landed a job at Rotolo Middle School right out of college. The community, school, parents and students have always been the reason I have stayed here and stayed teaching. 

I received my bachelors in Art Education from Wartburg College. I have continued my education with a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University and Master’s in Instructional Technology from Northern Illinois University. With these degrees I have been able to revamp the curriculum here at Rotolo and I am looking forward to continuing to improve the art education here. 


Melanie Meyer

Art, I found, has its own language that one can communicate through without words.


Children have much to say but often struggle bringing out those ideas to the world. To be able to teach art is a chance to work with many who might more than just enjoy it, but need it. I have been allowed the opportunity to teach children who love art and grow in their talent, to some who may not excel in art but learn to understand and appreciate it.  


“Art is a language, an instrument of knowledge, an instrument of communication”  Jean Dubuffet 


I have had a few careers in my life, all three connected in some way with children, teaching and art. I received my K-9 teaching degree from California State University Dominguez Hills. When I moved to Illinois from California, I left teaching to work in the field of International and Domestic Adoption.  I was blessed to help many children find forever families. I also taught Adoption education for many years. I decided to return to teaching but wanted to teach what I love and have passion for. So I went back to school and added a Middle School Art degree.


Everyday I am grateful for the opportunity to do what I love.  


My satisfaction in teaching art is having some small part in giving a student a voice, when art helps them speak their truth.


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Studio Batavia Visual Arts

Batavia High School

Batavia, IL  60510

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