“Since I was tiny, I just remember in school, [art] was the thing I looked forward to the most, besides recess,” Schnakenberg said.
As art became an interest to Schnakenberg, she noticed that it was something that she was good at.
“Then once everybody in class started copying me – that was it – I thought that was cool,” Schnakenberg said. “I wanted them to copy me more so, a little bit of the ego there, but I just kind of knew it was something I always just felt drawn to.”
Now, as one of East’s visual arts teachers, she leads students in creating projects using mediums including paint, clay and more.
Born in Texas, Schnakenberg is the older of two children in her family, with a younger brother who is severely mentally handicapped, currently living with thier mother Kathy. Schnakenberg lived in Texas until the end of her kindergarten year when her family moved to St. Louis. Her dad, who at the time was an elementary school principal, decided that he wanted to become a pastor, causing him to attend the seminary in St. Louis.
After living in St. Louis for two years, her family moved to Plainview, Minnesota where Schnakenberg lived for the remainder of her school years before coming to Kansas City. Schnakenberg then went to the KC Art Institute to obtain her BFA in painting. Having grown to like Kansas City, Schnakenberg decided to stay here and look for work.
At first, Schnakenberg had absolutely no thoughts of becoming an art teacher.
“When I got done with my bachelor’s, after those four years of college, I wanted to have nothing to do with school anymore,” Schnakenberg said. “I was done with school and I was doing kinda odd jobs here and there and then I decided, ‘Well I need to figure out how I’m gonna pay my rent,’ so I ended up going to school for a while to become a massage therapist.”
Schnakenberg continued to be a massage therapist for eight years before deciding it was time for a career change.
“I wanted to do something, anything, that had anything to do with art – particularly painting,” Schnakenberg said. “So I thought about art therapy, I thought about getting a Master’s in fine art and then eventually I just decided to go the education route and did that instead and that took a couple years.”
With a new career in mind, Schnakenberg attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City to obtain her education certification. During her time at UMKC, Schnakenberg was placed at East to student teach. Then, it worked out that after a year of student teaching, Schnakenberg was able to land a job at East.
In addition to spending time at East and working with art, Schnakenberg enjoys working out and leading fitness activities. In addition to working out everyday, Schnakenberg teaches aerobics classes at a couple different places around town.
“Ever since I started playing sports in 5th grade, it’s just kinda been something I look forward to do everyday and I don’t kind of feel like myself if I don’t,” Schnakenberg said.
Along with fitness, Schnakenberg looks forward to coming to school each day to work alongside her colleagues and students. Schnakenberg says that some of the reasons she enjoys being at East is because of the great support that the art department receives from the administration and the students who come through her classroom.
“I like the fact that the kids here are pretty genuinely respectful, for the most part, of just the educational process,” Schnakenberg said. “You don’t see a lot of discipline issues or you know, stuff that makes teaching little bit more difficult, it’s a nice place to be, kids are good here.”