Sharon McCoubrey Award in Visual Arts, Kelsie Balehowsky

Congratulations to our Sharon McCoubrey Award in Visual Arts recipient and 2022/2023 Bachelor of Education graduate, Kelsie Balehowsky!

“I have been fangirling over Dr. Sharon McCoubrey and her work for many, many years. To receive her award is really quite surreal and simply put, a huge honour,” says Balehowsky. “Dr. McCoubrey is inspiring on so many levels and I can only aspire to be half as impactful in my career as her. Also a big shout out to the Lake Country Art Gallery and the work she does there. If you are reading this and haven’t checked out the amazing work the LCAG does, take this as a sign to visit and support!”

This is what her nominator had to say:

Kelsie has a BFA from UBCO in printmaking and photography, and she always impressed me with her skills as an artist, her creative thought processes, and her ability to integrate FPPL and Indigenous perspectives into her teaching.  Her internship was beyond excellent—it was exceptional!   Additionally, Kelsie is a truly nice person, a wonderful teacher, and one of the best future art educators that I have ever had the pleasure to teach.


When Kelsie Balehowsky is not teaching, she is enjoying time outside with her partner and son — camping, backpacking, canoeing, hiking, foraging, and trying to identify every plant and animal in her path! She lives to be outside, learning from and on the land, and is grateful to be living on syilx land. She is also a practicing artist with a deep love for the arts community.


Why did you decide to enter the field of teaching?
After I graduated high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly, so I spent a handful of years traveling the world in hopes for an answer. In all my travels, I unintentionally ended up befriending teachers and found I was always excited to hear about what a life of an educator entails. In 2010, I finally decided to go to university to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with the goal of going into education. During my studies I had the privilege of working at public art galleries and fell in love with all things art education. I took a detour and pursued a career in Museum Art Education, where I spent 10 years running art education programs for public art galleries and my community. I saw firsthand the power of art as a tool for education and decided it was finally time to immerse myself fully in the world of public education.

What inspires your art?

I love using the camera as a tool for storytelling. I am also drawn to the history and physical hands-on process of printmaking. More recently I have been inspired and excited about exploring sculpture and making my own inks from materials I forage or salvage on my hikes. I love the feeling of being an amateur at a new medium. The excitement of trying something new, exploring, learning a new process, making mistakes. It is something that brings me great joy and has been an honour to share with my students. I am a firm believer in process-based art experiences and the rich learning it provides.

In my personal practice I love to use art as a tool to educate, advocate, and connect with my community.

What was your experience like with the Okanagan School of Education?

I loved my time with the Okanagan School of Education. The faculty were inspiring and it was so meaningful to develop relationships and connections with so many like-minded, passionate individuals.

The work the School is doing in terms of decolonization and indigenization is powerful. I am grateful for the focus and time spent learning about the legacy of the land I inhabit, and how to incorporate syilx history, wisdom and land-based education in the classroom.

What advice do you have for incoming teacher candidates?

You have some brilliant minds at your fingertips and whose job it is to help you. Soak it in! Connect, ask questions, explore, challenge, unlearn, understand.

In the words of Richard Wagamese: “Teachings come from everywhere when you open yourself to them. That’s the trick of it really, to open yourself to everything and everything opens itself to you.”

 Congratulations Kelsie!




Associate Professor Emeritus Sharon McCoubrey created the award to be presented to a Bachelor of Education student who has demonstrated leadership and passion for creativity with a commitment to advancing the teaching of visual arts in elementary schools.

Recipients of the Sharon McCoubrey Award provide artwork for a limited-edition mentor teacher appreciation certificate.


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