by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Forever Photography by Liberty

The Picture of Hope

“When my oldest child started school,” said Valley Elementary School volunteer Selena Pankretz, “I realized there was no formal art program.” She immediately volunteered to teach an art lesson in his class, and she was determined to fill the need. Developing a comprehensive art curriculum for each grade, Selena is on the PTA Board as the Vice President of Art, making sure there are art supplies, lessons, and events available for students. Selena is currently teaching art in kindergarten through fifth grade classes at Valley – and Highland Ranch Elementary!

Having studied fine art and communications/journalism at the University of New Mexico, Selena can now use her knowledge here. “My lessons usually include learning about an artist or art movement, an element of art (space, line, color, etc.), and a technique in the medium (i.e. crosshatch, dry brush, wash, etc.),” she confirmed. “I go into six to eight classes every week teaching my comprehensive art curriculum.” Recently, Selena realized how many students could use a break during class time, so she created a Sensory Path Initiative, which involves colorful, self-guided paths painted on sidewalks and blacktops, helping students use physical energy and movement to help re-focus and re-engage with learning.

Name: Selena R Pankretz
Community: Poway
Volunteer Affiliation: Valley Elementary PTA
Profession: Art Teacher
Family: One perfect husband, four amazing kids, plus a pretty good dog
Hobbies & Interests: Art, aerial silks, making the world a better place

Name of Group: Valley Elementary PTA
Group’s Mission: Build our school and community by facilitating volunteer opportunities, supporting our Valley teachers and staff, and planning fun family events that lead to positive, lasting memories.
Group Website:
Upcoming Valley Elementary Events: The Valley Elementary Education Foundation (VEEF) is sponsoring the 12th annual Cinco de Mayo Trail Run. It is a wonderful 5K around Lake Poway, there is a fun run for kids, music, and just a great way to spend the day.

Every year on her birthday, Selena tries to do something that scares her just a little or puts her outside her comfort zone. “Sometimes it ends badly, like the time I tried false eyelashes, but sometimes it leads me to a new passion.” That’s what happened with her current love for aerial silks, on which she’s been flying and flipping for the past five years.

Selena’s been married for 18 years to husband Ty Pankretz. “He’s the love of my life and my partner in crime,” Selena smiled. With four children, three boys and a girl, “They bring us joy and adventure, constantly keep us on our toes! We love playing games, making art, and laughing together.” In retrospect, Selena’s love for art was born when she was in fourth grade, and an artist came to her class. The few visits changed her life. “My hope has always been to do that for someone else, to start that spark!” Selena confirmed. “I have taught over 600 students and seeing that moment when they feel magical creating art is the greatest accomplishment I could hope for. My hope for each day is to be a force for good in the world, and help make the world be a better place.”