The Art Teacher Trilogy: La Salle Art Teachers and Their Impacts on the Community

La Salle’s art department features an extensive number of classes. Within the performing and fine arts divisions, teachers Mr. Otto Wild, Mr. Michael Shelton, and Ms. Cha Asokan are three integral members of the program, and play key roles in incorporating the arts into the greater La Salle community. The three teachers shared their journey into the arts and the impact it has had on their lives thus far.
The Art Teacher Trilogy: La Salle Art Teachers and Their Impacts on the Community
Mr. Wild’s favorite motto is “keen-eyed dragon” which refers to “someone who feels the fear of doing something but knows they’re not living their life fully unless they go do that one thing, so they feel a fear and they go do it anyway.” (Audrey Waters )
Mr. Wild

Mr. Otto Wild has been teaching at La Salle for 28 years. 

Every week Mr. Wild juggles six classes that range from choir and guitar to religion. His two guitar classes are either beginner or advanced, which focus on musical pieces that suit the class’s level of skill. While the beginning guitarist is learning strumming and chord patterns, the advanced guitarist is playing songs such as Pachelbel’s “Canon” and Bach’s “Prelude.” The choir is also learning a variety of songs such as “A La Nanita Nana” and “Palestrina Sicut Cervus.”

Mr. Wild first became interested in music in fifth grade when he starred in the musical “Peter Pan” as Peter Pan, and although he didn’t remember his lines most of the time he knew that he liked it. Later, when he finished college and got his degrees in communications, psychology, management, and philosophy, he settled on the idea that he would go back and get his music degree.

Mr. Wild said that the arts have impacted his life “every day, every day, every day.” He explained that music makes people feel different and in touch with emotions they normally don’t feel.

Mr. Wild believes to have a “well-rounded education,” you must have the arts because without them “we wouldn’t be complete” and the more we incorporate them the healthier we get “physically and especially emotionally,” he said.

“If you didn’t have the arts you might as well cut off your legs and an arm,” Mr. Wild said. 

An artist that Mr. Wild looks up to is Taylor Swift. Despite the fact that he doesn’t keep up with some of her more recent music, he admires how she can attract a crowd and connect people with her music. 

Something Mr. Wild is looking forward to this year being able to hold more open mic nights, as he loves seeing all the talent on and off the stage. One goal Mr. Wild has for himself and his students is to mature in choir concerts, competitions, and performances.

Mr. Shelton’s favorite motto to say before a performance is “Let’s kick the tires and light the fires,” meaning it’s showtime. (Jasmine McIntosh )
Mr. Shelton

Mr. Michael Shelton serves as the head of the Fine Arts department and runs all theater productions.

Throughout the week, Mr. Shelton teaches a variety of classes featuring Introduction to Theater Arts, Advanced Acting and Production, Filmmaking and Screenwriting, Introduction to Theater Production and Design, as well as one US History class. Although the Advanced Acting and Production class is audition-only, the Introduction to Theater Arts class gives insight and history to new thespians about the basics of theater, while the advanced class guides the students into their journey of doing theater inside and outside of La Salle.

Mr. Shelton was first introduced to acting by his high school English teacher who signed him up for theater productions. Initially, he wasn’t a fan, as he was signed up involuntarily, but he became hooked soon after and enjoyed his time in theater, which he described as “magical.”

Although it was a long journey for Mr. Shelton to find his path as a theater teacher, he thanks his involvement in theater camps, as they allowed him to see how people came alive on stage. It brought him so much joy — more than the work he was doing at the time, so he established that he would get his master’s and license in teaching by going back to college. 

Someone who Mr. Shelton looks up to is composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, as he admires how hard working, supportive, and down to earth he was. Mr. Shelton explained that there were many stories of Sondheim where he would go to local shows of the towns he was in and personally give them letters of encouragement backstage. “Just this idea that it [mattered] to him to do the same thing for other people, that people did for him,” Mr. Shelton said. 

Mr. Shelton sees the positive impact the arts has on people by “getting a chance to see magic happen, getting a chance to see people grow, getting a chance to see people that played a character and somehow after playing that character, it was like they were more mature or more empathetic or there was just something about the; as a person they were different,” Mr. Shelton said.

Mr. Shelton hopes that his students’ confidences can build through theater and that they sense empowerment while storytelling on stage.

He added that he believes that theater gives the community hope and inspiration and helps to “become better, more fully formed versions of ourselves.” Additionally Mr. Shelton also declared that “[theater is] just as valuable and important to our education [and] to our growing into our best selves, as anything else is.”

“We’re small but we do it all” is how Ms. Cha refers to the La Salle art department. (John Pham )
Ms. Cha

Ms. Cha Lakshmi Asokan has been at La Salle for almost six years, and teaches a multitude of fine arts classes.

Ms. Cha’s class selection includes Art Foundations, 2D Design, 3D Design, and AP Studio Art. The class Art Foundations includes new and experienced artists who want to enhance and learn the foundations of art, while AP Studio Art is more focused on portfolios and allows artists to be more independent or centered on one particular artistic style. 

Narrowing down an artist who inspired Ms. Cha was hard but she said that she admires many musicians and artists, including Jean-Micheal Basquiat and Wu-Tang Clan.

Although Ms. Cha grew up in New York City and was exposed to an array of art focused ideas, she first became interested in the arts when she attended a woodshop and 3D application classes in college. From then on she was “hooked.” After these classes she changed her major and finished her education path with an art degree. 

While living in Dallas later on, Ms. Cha realized that she wanted to teach when she visited a visual and performing arts high school called Booker T. Washington. There, she discovered a full clay studio filled with students which gave her a look into what her life could be as a teacher. 

The arts gave her an opportunity to share her desire and passion with others in friendships, teachings, and humanity. In addition, Ms. Cha sees how the arts overlap with academics and vice versa, especially when using the physical materials for projects and pieces. She states that there is a lot of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and history behind art and feels it is important that people realize that. 

Ms. Cha believes that art allows students to practice problem solving skills and overall attention to detail which can help them in their lives and careers. She hopes that her students can use their self expression to become more open minded, willing to try new things, and to see different perspectives that most people might not see. 

Ms. Cha expressed that the arts are essential for students and schools and “without them, they would be miserable,” she said. 

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About the Contributor
Izzy Sulloway Ferreras
Izzy Sulloway Ferreras, Staff Reporter
Senior Izzy Sulloway Ferreras enjoys crafting, reading, and baking. She is fond of watching old 80’s movies while making chocolate chip cookies and collecting old records from thrift shops or from her relatives.  The arts have been a huge part of her life as she started ballet when she was three, joined her children’s choir at seven, preferred movies with music, and could always be found in her backyard drawing something abstract.  Now following in that path she is dedicated to the Theatre Department as their devoted President and looks forward to choir every morning warming up to “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees.

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  • C

    Cha Lakshmi AsokanNov 10, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    Awesome Izzy! Super thoughtful and thank you for taking the time to recognize the arts at Lasalle! Great job!

  • O

    Otto WildNov 9, 2023 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for letting everyone see the full picture of the Arts Department at La Salle.