Warriors of Jupiter: Sarah Knudtson


Kaysa Flemk-Joli

Jupiter High art teacher Sarah Knudtson works with an art piece in her classroom while teaching to both on-campus and online students.

Sarah Knudtson is a visual arts teacher whose creativity, kindness and humor have touched the students and faculty at Jupiter High School. She teaches AICE Digital Design, AP Studio Art: 2D Design and Drawing, Creative Photography and she sponsors the National Art Honor Society. She has been at Jupiter High for seven years. 

It wasn’t always Knudtson’s plan to be a teacher, but after thinking back to who she wanted to be when she was a child, she knew she wanted to be “kind.” Her plan succeeded, and she has been incorporating kindness into her classroom every day since she began teaching.

Knudtson has been in the classroom on-and-off since 2000 and has found that teaching art is a strong way of communicating with her students, helping them build bonds with not only their teachers and peers but also their art audiences. 

“The secret to good art-making is risk-taking, and to take risks you need to feel safe. Also, we are forced to socialize with each other five days a week; being kind makes the time pass in a more enjoyable manner,” Knudtson said. 

Along with her passion of art, Knudtson feels strongly about human rights and the importance of keeping an open mind, to seeing ideas in different perspectives.

“There are a lot of issues that are important to me, but they all seem to come back to civil rights, LGBTQ+ issues, anti-racism [and] the link between literacy and prison,” she said. “These are some topics I am working on educating myself about, so I help offset my own ignorance and bias.” 

Knudtson has had accomplishments both in and outside the classroom, including showings of her own art at nationwide galleries and art exhibits, but she is particularly proud of her Master of Fine Arts degree, and of course her cats.

“Besides how amazing my cats are, I am proud of my MFA. I went back to school in my late 30s and completed something I always wanted to do,” Knudtson said. 

Constantly pushing herself, Knudtson has displayed her artwork in a variety of ways, received multiple awards and is published. She is currently working on a sound piece on cultural memory about the Fox Sisters and the origins of spirituality. 

A long-time colleague of Knudtson, Stephen Germana, also a fine arts teacher at Jupiter High, has known Knudtson since their freshman year of high school at Dreyfoos School of the Arts. Germana explained how he is influenced by Knudtson’s work. 

“We always talk about artistic ideas, and I think we inspire each other a lot,” Germana said. 

Germana feels Knudtson expresses her embracing aura in a positive manner, making those around her feel accepted and noticed.  

“She has a very accepting energy of different types of people and a low tolerance for hate, but she makes lots of students feel very welcomed,” Germana said. 

Another colleague of Knudtson, Peyton Ellis, is the head of the JHS Medical Academy. She has worked alongside Knudtson for five years and is always impressed by Knudtson’s positive energy and her close bonds with students. 

“She is super sweet and really close to her kids. She lets them be open, and she’s always working overtime,” Ellis said. “She goes above and beyond for the students.”

Head of the fine arts department and ceramics teacher, Brian Kovachik, has been Knudtson’s next-door ‘classroom neighbor’ for almost seven years. He respects Knudtson’s commitment to teaching her students and her creativity within her art.

“I think her students’ well-being is one of her main concerns, and her creativity comes out in every aspect: through her room, her teaching and through her students’ work,” Kovachik said. “She really is one of the most talented people I know.” 

Kovachik reflected on one moment that showed Knudtson’s hardworking and whimsical character. 

“I remember the first year she was teaching here, and she was always in a hurry moving from one side of the room to the other, and she slipped and fell, then got right back up like nothing happened and said, ‘well, it happens all the time’,” Kovachik said. 

Ellis also commented on the incident.

“She just gets back up and keeps going,” Ellis added.

Leanna Overbeck, a JHS senior, has known Knudtson since her freshman year. Overbeck’s time with Knudtson has given her the chance to relate with someone and talk to them. 

“She has always been there for me and will support you no matter what. She has been the teacher I have cried and laughed to and helped me when I was going through a really low place,” Overbeck said. 

Overbeck added that Knudtson is unlike other teachers because of the way she works her classroom.

“She actually makes an attempt to get to know and help her students. She also teaches and adjusts her teaching style for ways that benefit you the most,” Overbeck said.