More than a Art Teacher…

3 11 2013

I have evolved over the years but really I have just become a more refined version of myself.  I love being an art teacher, I love teaching art at any level and in many forms.  I love bringing the opportunity for my students to reach a level of expression in an art form.  The “light” that is switched on is never turned off once it is switched on.  It may explode or it may become dull. It depends on the student but they never really loose that “light” that was turned on to discover originality, a new skill,  or a new way of expression.  The confidence and pride the student experiences is intrinsically connected to this moment.  You can recognize it when you see it and it is what keeps me in the studio with my students.

Now- I have always loved service learning or community service, whatever you want to call it – to me it is the same.

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I have been doing it my whole life…giving to others and improving even the smallest part of the world.  The past several years I have been able to inspire and encourage my students to find a way to dedicate themselves to a cause or an organization through my teaching.  I have been in a position to experiment and incorporate my ideas within my school day through my art club, culinary club, animal care, photo club, and curbside couture fashion show.  I am busy but blessed.

I am most proud when I listen to my students tell me about what they did to help others.  In the past years I have supported several organizations and included my students in my adventures.  The Egghisbition, Empty Bowls, BeLikeBrit orphan portraits, and several community activities that just need our artistic support to help raise funds.

The Homes for Haiti project has been my small project that I started to help me through a very tough time.  I initiated the project for an alumni art student of mine who was missing in Haiti after the earthquake for three days.  The thought of her passing was too much for me, so I did the project as a way to prepare and support the mission in Haiti she started.  Thankfully, my alumni student Missy was found and survived.  But the devastation in Haiti was terrible and the children in Haiti still needed our help.  My art students loved my little colorful houses and wanted to help me help the children.  So years later we are still raising money to support the Clinton Haiti Relief Fund.  This year alone we have set up our booth three different times (we have more scheduled events) and sold hundreds of pins, ornaments, and magnets.  We spend weekdays creating the houses and then our weekends selling our product and raising the awareness of the needs in Haiti.

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This weekend we set up our booth at The Cornbread Festival in a newly rejuvenated area in downtown Little Rock.  The Bernice Gardens is in a private garden in the city that features a collection of outdoor sculptures and space to set up events.  It is exciting to be apart of a community who sees the benefits of supporting local farmers, business owners, and capturing the safe small town feel in a bigger part of the city.  The work the organizers did to provide a fun, safe, family, atmosphere was wonderful.

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My students continue to become more effective at cold calling people in the street to hear about our Homes for Haiti project and the pride and passion they share with the community is contagious.  We raised $730.00 at the festival.  I received so many compliments from our customers as to how polite, knowledgeable, and passionate my students are about this project.  I have had several discussions with my students on the other benefits they have learned and experienced through our process of creating and marketing our Homes for Haiti project for their future plans in college.

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It’s all about making changes in the world big and small and we all can do it.  

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