Southsider Voice correspondent
Kathryn “Kate” (Peters) Weller, who is being honored as Teacher of the Year, was born in Batu Gajah, Malaya, Malaysia, to Gerald and Pat Peters of Camborne, Cornwall, England.
Kate attended Penang Hill Boarding School from the age of 4-7. She and her parents moved to St. Austell, Cornwall, England, before coming to the United States in 1969.
She attended Central and South Grove elementary schools, Beech Grove Junior High and Beech Grove High. “My class will celebrate its 40-year reunion this year,” she said.
“I had several teachers through my years at BG who made an impression on me. I remember Mrs. Helen Brunoehler, who taught English at Beech Grove Junior High. Each year she taught a mini-course on portrait drawing. The first time I took her course made me realize that I loved to draw portraits. My mother always told me that I wanted to draw and paint from a young age. It didn’t take much convincing to sign me up to take art classes from Marilyn Baker at Pro Art Studio on Main Street in Beech Grove.”
Kate noted that many of her teachers at Beech Grove High influenced her to pursue a career in education. “Mr. Osborne, Mr. Gambrell, Mrs. Rounds, Mr. Williams, Mrs. Spencer and Mr. McNamara, to name a few, made learning fun. I truly believe that they cared about their students.”
Kate graduated from Indiana Central University (now UIndy), where she majored in art and education and minored in art history.
“I married a wonderful man by the name of Jim Weller in the summer of 1982, between my junior and senior year of college,” she said.
Kate filled in for semester maternity leaves at Center Grove and Franklin high schools after graduating from college.
Her first official contract teaching job was instructing art at St. Jude School for six years.
She left St. Jude to open The Art Studio on Main Street in Beech Grove because it gave her the opportunity to spend more time with her children.
“We had four children in seven years, and this seemed to fit our family at that time in our lives. Throughout those three years I stayed in education. I was a sub for the Beech Grove Schools,” she said.
“While walking one of my children to school, Mr. James Flanders pulled his car up to me and offered me a job teaching art at my alma mater. I would be teaching with my high school art teacher ... something that I had always said that I wanted to do. I graciously accepted. I have been at Beech Grove High ever since.
“I also taught summer art classes to children and adults in my home studio up to the time that BG went to the balanced calendar. I still enjoy spending time in my studio working on commission pieces, but mostly tinkering around just for fun.”
A pencil drawing of hers was awarded the Governor’s Choice Award at the Indiana State Fair several years ago. It was on display at the governor’s mansion for that year. A few years ago she earned second-place honors for a large stained glass piece of a tiger that she entered at the fair.
“I felt very honored to receive awards for both of these pieces as I enjoyed the time I spent working on them,” she said.
Kate has taught 2-D art, a watercolor class, stained glass, jewelry and ceramics at Beech Grove High, where she has served as chairman of the Art Department for 15 years.
“I am the Academic Team sponsor as well as the Visual Arts Team coach. I am part of the Renaissance Committee and am on the Alumni Hall of Fame,” she said.
Her hobbies include spending time creating in her studio, traveling, camping and working in her garden.
“My husband and I enjoy visiting with our children here and those in other states (or sometimes countries). Three of our eight are military, which gives us the opportunity to go to new places.”
The Wellers have four children, Chris (Sharon) Weller, Kellie (John) Habig, Scott (Brittley) Weller and Nick (Anna) Weller, one granddaughter, Presley, who will be 3 in March, and two little additions will be soon be joining their family soon.
Kate’s older brother, David, also graduated from Beech Grove. He and his wife, Jeanne, reside on the Southside and have six children and 11 grandchildren.