Cherokee Knight

“Mrs. Knight has done a wonderful job of encouraging creativity in students! The hallways are always beautifully decorated with student artwork. Students are always excited about and looking forward to their upcoming art projects. Mrs. Knight has continued the tradition of Elementary Art Club and stepped right up to help with fliers for Family Movie Night! She has also spent time furthering her knowledge as an educator by attending professional development opportunities. I appreciate all of her hard work for our district!”

“Mrs. Knight works so hard to help give every elementary student an opportunity to see they can be great at art!”

Mrs. Cherokee Knight grew up in Houston, Missouri, and her family moved to Willow Springs where she graduated from high school in 2017. During high school, Mrs. Knight developed her passion for art and being a professional educator, and she earned an A+ scholarship to help offset the cost of her education. Mrs. Knight left Willow Springs to move to Springfield where she attended Ozark Technical College and earned her associate degree.

A transfer to Missouri State University in Springfield led to Mrs. Knight earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and a Bachelor of Science in Education with certification in education in 2022. While a student, Mrs. Knight was also a celebrated local artist with expressive oil portraits on display at Brick City Gallery and Corolla Art Gallery. Mrs. Knight said she wanted to emphasize empathy for the human experience and mental health in very large pieces that could be shared with the public. Mrs. Knight was heavily influenced by her father’s love of oil painting at an early age.  A proud daughter of a mother who didn’t attend college, and a father who didn’t finish high school, Mrs. Knight became a first generation college student desiring to make a better life for herself through hard work and a dream to be an art educator.

Mrs. Knight shares her favorite medium, painting, along with many other forms of self-expression with elementary students are Licking School District. “I have a special place in my heart for at-risk children who need an outlet, and I got into teaching because I wanted to help kids like me do better in their lives,” Mrs. Knight reflected. Working as a first year teacher now, Mrs. Knight is doing just that. After student teaching last spring at West Plains, it is easy to forget that Mrs. Knight is still learning the craft of teaching in her first year of experience.

“I came to Licking wanting to introduce students to independent thinking and self-selected learning where they could use their own choices to express themselves creatively,” Mrs. Knight said. In addition to a full time teaching schedule, Mrs. Knight helped organize the Frisco League Art Show/Contest in Licking, she sponsors Elementary Art Club, and she has encouraged students to spread art throughout the community. Students have painted ceiling tiles, delivered handmade cards to the nursing home, and added murals around campus. Elementary teachers note that Mrs. Knight has worked with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade teachers on interdisciplinary projects where art enhances students’ understanding of core content such as elements of literature including Charlotte’s Web, The Polar Express, and independent book reports.

Mrs. Knight says her own passion for art and creativity hasn’t dulled at all as a result of working as full-time art teacher. In fact, she finds exactly the opposite happening! “Even though there is lots of preparing to do for student work – staying late in the evenings, getting materials ready, and organizing student work – I am so impressed by students’ awesome paintings, and I’m thrilled about every student having a valuable experience,” Mrs. Knight beamed.

When tailoring her classroom lessons to various grades, Mrs. Knight says her younger students respond well to holiday themes and older students enjoy expressing their own interests. Mrs. Knight adds in elements of art history and famous artists while teaching fundamentals. Licking Elementary’s main hallway is decorated with identity projects 5th grade students completed based on inspiration from the artist, Basquiat. In the future, Mrs. Knight says she is excited to add even more choice-based art, student research, and critical thinking activities. She believes in guided learning in which students explore topics of interest and projects and expand their work into more outdoor spaces throughout the community.

Mrs. Knight is married to Mr. Trae Knight, and they recently bought their first home. A new business owner, Mr. Knight is often busy running T&T Smokehouse. Mrs. Knight enjoys gardening flowers and vegetables around her new home, hiking, backpacking, and traveling (especially in western states) during her free time. The couple have a chihuahua mix named Buddy, and an older cat named Princess. Mrs. Knight belongs to National Art Educator’s Association, and she enjoys gathering new ideas at their annual conferences.

Mrs. Knight is known for her colorful influence on Licking’s hallways and the supportive messages she shares with students and staff. She believes she would not have made it through this school year without the amazing support and collaboration from Licking staff and administration, and she is inspired by how much the Licking Staff cares for their students. have We know we are blessed as a school district to have such a positive influence in our fine arts department, and for these reasons, we are proud to celebrate Mrs. Cherokee Knight as our May Spotlight Staff Member!