Anita Rieman has two passions in life: helping people and creating art. She feels blessed to be able to combine the two in her career at Awakening Minds Art in downtown Findlay. The creative artists who make up the crew at AMA teach individual and group art classes to people of all ages and abilities, but specialize in working with students with special needs. Because Rieman has a passion for children, the elderly, and those with special needs, it is hard to imagine a better fit for her.
Rieman has a long history of working with special needs students. While still attending high school, she was a teacher’s aide in a multiple handicapped classroom. She has also been a substitute teacher’s aide in developmentally disabled and emotionally disturbed classrooms. Her first job after high school was working in Putnam County group homes. “That’s when the passion really kicked in,” she says. At that time, she decided to attend the University of Findlay for Social Work and make a career out of helping people.
During her senior internship at the University of Findlay, she was working at Fox Run Manor and spotted Sarah Crisp, founder and director of AMA, painting with the residents there. Rieman sensed that was what she wanted to do and approached Sarah to find out more. Since joining Sarah and AMA in 2011, it is obvious that she has found her calling in life.
When asked to identify the most rewarding aspect of her job, Rieman has a hard time narrowing it down. “Ninety-five percent of my job is just amazing,” she replies. She lists many positive aspects including teaching all ages and abilities, seeing a proud smile, and observing that sense of pride and accomplishment.
Rieman has made an impact on many lives by helping people through art. She teaches in both group and one-on-one settings, traveling as far as St. Mary’s to work with different populations, including spending time in many nursing homes. She describes one of her favorite experiences at AMA when she was working with a teenager with autism. While they were painting together for the first time he began to let out a laugh, which Rieman describes as the best belly laugh. When she asked, “What’s so funny?” he replied, “Happy!” This excitement and joy in students is what makes her job truly fulfilling.
Awakening Minds Art, 515 S. Main St., Findlay. 419-302-3892. awakeningmindsart.org