Re­tired Art Teach­ers Run Stu­dio Out Of Home

McDonald County Press - - COUNTY - Rachel Dick­er­son

Re­tired art teach­ers Den­nis and Char­lene Ber­gen have an art stu­dio at their home in An­der­son.

Both of them were born and raised in McDon­ald County. Den­nis worked 35½ years at McDon­ald County Schools — all schools and all grades, he said. Char­lene worked 18 years at McDon­ald County Schools, with 13 of those teach­ing art.

They shared how they got into art and how their ca­reers went.

Den­nis said he had an older brother who liked to draw. It seemed like art al­ways came nat­u­rally to him. He re­mem­bers draw­ing in el­e­men­tary school on the Big Chief tablets.

“I hadn’t re­ally planned to go into art. I was go­ing to go into engi­neer­ing. I took math and science,” he said. Then he found he had some abil­ity in art and he had a teacher who re­ally en­cour­aged him. He only got a teach­ing de­gree to have some­thing to fall back on, he said. He didn’t ap­ply for his first job. The school district, Wash­burn, asked Mis­souri South­ern State Univer­sity for its top grad­u­ate in art. He taught there two years and then got the chance to come home and teach here in 1981. That was the same year he and Char­lene got mar­ried.

He is now re­tired from teach­ing but still pas­tors Ban­ner Church of the Nazarene. He did both for 20 years.

Asked what he loved about teach­ing, he said, “The in­ter­ac­tion with the kids was the best part of it and help­ing them dis­cover tal­ents they didn’t know they had.”

He added that see­ing many stu­dents go into the field and make a liv­ing was re­ally re­ward­ing.

Char­lene said she al­ways loved art but she had a prior ca­reer as a graphic de­signer for a band uni­form com­pany in Neosho. She did that for 11 years. She got to de­sign the uni­form for the Texas Longhorns and bands all over the na­tion and trav­eled with the job. She said she loved it, but she al­ways knew she wanted to teach.

Af­ter that, she was the art di­rec­tor at the Neosho Rec Cen­ter. She taught mu­sic and art to chil­dren and wrote grants for the cen­ter.

Then she worked out of her home with DeMoulin Uni­forms, the top band uni­form com­pany in the na­tion, she said.

She went back to school at night to be­come a teacher. Soon McDon­ald County hired her. She later earned her mas­ter’s de­gree. When she got into teach­ing she was a li­brary aid, worked for the as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent, taught mu­sic and fi­nally taught art.

Asked what she loved most about teach­ing, she said, “Work­ing with the kids. You sure miss it once you get out of it. Be­ing a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence. Get­ting the kids ready for com­pe­ti­tion. See­ing the kids im­prove ev­ery year.”

She re­tired in May. She said last year at Christ­mas she got the feel­ing she wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent, so she started Ber­gen Stu­dio.

One thing she does through Ber­gen Stu­dio is run­ning the school district’s art bus, Art on the Van Gogh. With it, she trav­els to the var­i­ous schools and teaches art lessons to chil­dren. She stays pretty busy with the bus, and Den­nis stays pretty busy with the church, so they cre­ate art when they can.

Char­lene has a pot­tery wheel and kiln in her garage. She has done an expo where she sold some pot­tery and crafts. They can make cus­tom pot­tery pieces, Den­nis said.

Char­lene re­cently do­nated a photo to a silent auc­tion for a see­ing-eye dog.

They do por­traits and paint­ings. Den­nis did some por­traits at Christ­mas, and a lady in An­der­son com­mis­sioned a wa­ter­color paint­ing from Char­lene re­cently.

They also have CDs with mu­sic that Char­lene recorded.

To sched­ule a por­trait or to com­mis­sion a paint­ing, call 417-529-1617.

“We love McDon­ald County and, Lord will­ing, we’ll be here the rest of our lives,” Char­lene com­mented.

“The in­ter­ac­tion with the kids was the best part of it and help­ing them dis­cover tal­ents they didn’t know they had.” Den­nis Ber­gen For­mer Art Teacher

RACHEL DICK­ER­SON/MCDON­ALD COUNTY PRESS

Den­nis and Char­lene Ber­gen are pic­tured with an orig­i­nal paint­ing at their home in An­der­son. The re­tired art teach­ers run an art stu­dio out of their home.

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