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Art education reformer

  Alumni Profile  

One of her daughter’s paintings inspired April Stan Gauss ’64 to reform art education in Houston.

For April Stan Gauss ’64, all it took was one “wow” moment to spawn decades of quality art education for nearly 4,000 elementary children a year in the Houston area.

As former executive director and current board member and consultant for Creative Alternatives, Gauss helped the visual arts program grow from its beginnings in 1982 serving a mere 200 students, to an after-school program servicing thousands in nearly 70 schools.

Gauss began her education career at a country school in southern Illinois where she taught every subject in a two-room schoolhouse akin to something found in Little House on the Prairie.

After moving to Texas, an art project her child brought home pushed her career in a different direction. One day her daughter brought home a painting that matched exactly what her son had brought home years earlier from the same teacher. Gauss was shocked into action.

“I had a ‘wow’ moment,” says Gauss. “This is not art. This is ‘follow me.’ ”

After working with area museums on art programs, she and several other women formed their own non-profit organization for arts education. Since then, it has grown so steadily that Gauss was honored by the Lemle Foundation, a group that supports children’s art shows in conjunction with the United Nations.

“I feel that I began this for my children,” she says, “but it has ended up being a gift to the children of Houston.”

She and her husband, geologist Joe Gauss ’64, have two grown children as well as two grandchildren.

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