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  • Writer's pictureJean Hodgson

Mr. Timothy Fote

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

When you see a list of finalists for High School Teacher of the Year in the Pacific Southwest District, you will surely join us in celebrating Timothy Fote being included in this well-deserved honor. Now in his sixth year on the VLHS staff, students are encouraged and inspired by his leadership in a variety of classes: Intro to Art, Drawing I, Drawing II, Painting, 3D Design, Studio Art, Computer Technology, and Digital Imaging. He also has been a chaperone on a few international youth mission trips.

Is it ironic that a Teacher of the Year finalist repeatedly said, “No, teaching isn’t for me” when that career was strongly and repeatedly suggested by those who had witnessed his gifts as an aide in a church childcare center and as a Boy Scout Camp Counselor? In fact, in his freshman year at Concordia University Nebraska he was a declared Graphic Design major. He enjoyed his art classes, but comments that with his Intro to Digital Photography course he became worried that if he did graphic design for a living, he would be spending over 40 hours a week on a computer. So, he enrolled in an Intro to Education course and “within the first three weeks of this course, I began to fall in love with the idea of becoming a teacher. So, I changed my major and started my journey with obtaining a degree in art education.”

Mr. Fote transferred to Concordia University Chicago and graduated with a BA in K-12 Art Education. During his time there he was hired by the art faculty to be a Teacher Assistant, which opened up countless experiences. An example was working alongside professional Chicago-based artists as a junior curator for the University's art gallery.

Because of the change in school and major, and adding minors in Theology and

Psychology, his graduation was in December. While art teacher jobs in Lutheran schools are typically scarce, particularly for mid-year placement, an unexpected request for him to interview for a 1st through 12th grade art teacher position led him to central Illinois. He taught in Decatur, Illinois for 3 ½ years at a Lutheran school and also was hired to be a part time teacher for the Decatur Area Arts Council.

Another unexpected contact, this time from Bob Koehne, fulfilled his lifelong desire to live in the Southwest. Mr. Fote confirms this opportunity and decision to move to Phoenix when he comments on the culture of VLHS. “I remember, vividly, during my first year at VLHS, how at almost every chapel, I would cry. I would cry because the students were actually singing. And they weren’t singing because they were forced to, they were singing because they actually wanted to sing praises to the Lord.”

He is currently single and his biological family members live in Wisconsin and Washington, DC, but he says, “People who are most active within my day-to-day life, and who are most like a family, are those within my church home.”

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