Alumni Update and Business Spotlight
Claire (Lister) Ellinger ‘96
Owner, Art Time for Kids
Claire attended Mary Washington College from ’96-’00. She graduated with an Art Degree with an intention to work as an interior designer. As luck would have it, she found herself working at an alternative school and the Virginia Outdoor Center helping children with emotional disabilities. The staff was so great that she began picturing herself working as an educator, even though she had never considered this before.
Claire decided to go back to school to earn a Master’s Degree and an education degree at University of Mary Washington while continuing to work with the special ed population. After earning her teaching degree, she worked as a middle school art teacher at A.G. Wright Middle School in North Stafford.
After marrying her husband, Kenny Ellinger, and having her two boys (now 10 and 7), she stopped working as a full-time teacher. She began her current business, Art Time for Kids, in 2014 while her boys were still babies. The classes began very small and were held in her home. The business grew with her boys, and as they began preschool and then elementary school, Art Time for Kids matured as a business as well.
Art Time for Kids now resides at 101 Hanover Street. They offer classes for children ages 2 through middle school, and they are steadily growing their programs. Currently, there are over 70 children enrolled in different classes throughout the week. Claire proudly uses Art History and process-based art projects to give students a wonderful art experience every class. While this business is for-profit, she also has made it a mission to give to the community. Art Time for Kids supports the Community Foundation, offers two scholarships per summer to the week-long art camp, and creates free art kits for children in the community through the Little Library in our outdoor space facing Hanover Street. Public art and murals are a fantastic way to reach out to people, also. Their K-5th grade Art Club recently completed a five-panel mural in December 2020 which was installed on Caroline Street for all to enjoy. Our town has a rich art community, and she believes public art should be uplifting, enjoyable, and accessible to all!
She credits Mr. Holmes, Mr. Schlee, Mrs. Stanley, Mr. Bjornson, and Mrs. Racheau as teachers and staff that were positive influences in her life during her time at FCS.
How can you get your kids involved?
Art Time for Kids offers art classes for children ages 2 through 8th grade. Our weekly classes teach Art History from around the world, as we learn about past and present artists. To enroll in a class, check the website for when our sessions begin! I
How can you help Art Time for Kids make an impact in our community?
If you are interested in sponsoring a free art kit for community families to access, please contact Claire Ellinger to sponsor the Little Art Library for a week! Many people and businesses have given $75-$100 to create one week’s worth of free art kits. This popular program began this fall as many area children are learning virtually. Art Time For Kids recognizes that not all families can afford the extracurricular activities, but all children enjoy a fun project!