Carla Stolte

Top 40 Under 40 2014

Photography Curtis Trent

Age: 39

Job Title: Music and Arts Specialist with Mount Royal School

Why She’s Top 40: For leading her neighbourhood to become a tighter community, and introducing arts and music to children.

How I Relax: “I love drinking red wine. Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that. And I love late-night talks with my husband, sitting on the couch.”

This past year, Carla Stolte oversaw an initiative called the Penny Project, which blended her passion for the arts, her students and community. Her students from Mount Royal School used the now-defunct coins to create sculptures that represented what community meant to them. The project was sponsored by Kingsway Mall, which held a gala and auctioned off the sculptures, donating the nearly $13,000 raised to low-income families so children could attend full-day kindergarten classes.

Stolte recalls one student with social anxiety whose sculpture was a box made from conjoined pennies. Inside the box was a lightbulb that shone through the cracks. To the student, each penny represented a person, and the bulb symbolized how even within the confines of anxiety, good things shine through.

I ask if her students ever make her cry. “All the time,” Stolte says.

Mount Royal School is one of a handful of arts-core schools in the Edmonton Public system. The curriculum incorporates arts of all kinds in everyday lessons, such as having the students model the different types of clouds with modeling clay. The lessons are visual, tactile, encourage a creative outlook and allow her students – many of whom come from low-income families – outlets for self-expression.

Along with encouraging creativity in youth, she also helps her neighbourhood thrive. As president of the Westmount Community League, Stolte puts 10 hours a week into building her neighbourhood, whether that involves canvassing for new street lamps or introducing neighbours to one another.

“I love that I can call my neighbour and say, ‘I’m going to be later from work; can I send my kids down to you because they’re home by themselves?'” Stolte says. “I would love everyone in Edmonton to have that experience.”

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