We just wrapped on the Arkansas Art Educators 2015 Art Convention. I volunteered to present two sessions and to also step into a Regional Directors position. Yup! It’s official I am full. I have my hands full at my school all day and the addition of all the other organizations I run, advise, host, do…I am nuts. So what’s the big deal to load on more?!
Okay- yes prepping for a sub for two days and preparing two sessions was a challenge. Stepping into a position and finding my footing along the way was stretching me but I think I survived. My sessions did not go without their hiccups with poor Wi-Fi issues but overall not too bad. I hope some of the teachers who attended my sessions gleaned some new ideas. I was excited to meet with the region I have been assigned to lead, about what we can do to continue to connect throughout the rest of the year. I proposed a few art coffee meet-ups to have face-to-face discussions and encourage professional development. It seemed to be well received. I guess we will find out when we have our first meet up.
I was honored at a reception this year for the Secondary Art Educator of the Year and as much as I felt it was an honor I wasn’t prepared for the emotion that spilled out of me in the moment. I was so humbled and appreciative of the selection from the other art educators. They get it…they understand what we do as art educators all day. We are passionate people who are driven by a calling that we cannot control. All week as I was preparing my sub plans and my session materials, I was thinking of my undergrad college art education professor. Dr. Ernella Hunzinker, she would have loved to see me get this award. Her eyes would have lit up, her smile would have stretched across her face, and she would be beaming. She believed in me before I believed in myself. I grew under her support. She was a tough professor and students either loved her or disliked her. I loved her. I truly admired her ability to meet her demands as an art education professor in a male dominated field and manage her disabilities as MS took control of her body. She never complained and pushed herself to get it all done despite the physical challenges.
Dr. Hunzinker came to my first district art show at my first full time teaching position. She found a bench in the hallway and admired the display I had hung of my students work. She sat there and waited for me to find a break from a group of parents and students to visit with her for a few moments. I wasn’t expecting her. I turned around and I saw her. I was so happy she came and I was excited for her to see me in action. I was her prodigy and she was my mentor. I sat next to her on the bench in the hallway surrounded with my first years student work and she held my hand. I looked at her and she had tears welling up in her eyes. She said, “I knew you would be this great. I knew you could do it. I am so proud of you. You will be great.” I was a little surprised by her tears but not her words. I could sense her pride in me. We hugged and she stepped out the side door and was driven away. Not long after I received news that her MS had limited her mobility and she retired from teaching. Not long after she passed away. My mentor was gone. To this day I hold that last meeting in my mind. This memory flooded my mind when I reached the podium to receive the Secondary Art Award. I was overcome with her memory. I could see her face again in my mind. Dr. Hunzinker would have been in the front row.
So I do the walk and the talk to help elevate art education in her honor. She would want it that way. Represent and elevate others to carry on long after you are gone. This is the legacy she would want me to leave behind.
I encourage you to step up and serve your art organization and help elevate art education in your area and then I challenge you to spread it on up to the National Level.