LaShelle VanHouten was born and raised in Kalkaska, Michigan. She is the mother of two children, Kaleigh and Ty, and the Grandmother of Elliana. She is married to Ken VanHouten and they live in Eastport, Michigan. The two dreams that she had during her childhood were that her life would involve the arts and that she would make a difference in the lives of other people.
LaShelle studied art at Northwestern Michigan College and has been working as a freelance artist and muralist for twenty-five years. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family Life Education and a Master of Arts degree in education.
LaShelle has worked as an art teacher for Kalkaska Public Schools for over ten years. Eight of those years were spent using the arts to touch the lives of at-risk adolescents. During that time LaShelle and her students took on several mural projects for the community. Some of the projects included painting two large murals for The National Trout Festival, which are used as a backdrop for the grandstand. They also painted a mural, which measured 45’ wide by 12’ long, of Mackinaw Island’s Grand Hotel for Fitch’s School of Dance.
The day LaShelle was introduced to Ed Lantzer was a life changing moment. She began taking her students that were considered “troubled” to Mr. Ed’s workshop for two hours a day. This lasted for two years. During those two years everyone had the opportunity to learn from a true artist. Mr. Ed not only taught LaShelle and her students about art, but also about life. LaShelle considers this a changing point in her life. She decided to engage in this project to help her students, but came away from it as a more mature person and artist. Mr. Ed’s gift as a mentor and friend will be something she will always treasure.
LaShelle’s belief is that any student can use the arts as a vehicle to find a place in this world. She currently teaches art at Kalkaska High School. LaShelle has walked the path towards her childhood dreams, and with God’s help, she will continue the journey.