Serving Your Local Organization- Do the Walk

15 11 2015

DSC_0021We 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?!  

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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Many ways to nurture creativity, innovation, and service.

8 11 2015

IMG_6593My philosophy is, I have so many interests and I am passionate about all of them, so why not share it with the individuals who I spend most of my time influencing everyday. It just makes sense to me. I often hear this in my mind. “Be the change you want to see in the world” and “you will be remembered by how you made people feel”. No one knows how much time you have on this planet and I want my time to count for something worthwhile. I am one person, I am just an art educator, but I want to make a difference and I can by influencing others who will continue to influence more people. In my opinion, this is the best way to spend your time.

My program at school includes many moving parts that flow seamlessly and often has students gliding between one and more of my programs.  I believe in empowering students to take charge and to explore many different interests.  So with that in mind I host several projects and programs.

It is crazy at times because while I am teaching art in a TAB studio to five different courses, I’m striving to keep creating my own art and grow as an artist. Plus, keep up with art shows, professional development, home life, being a mom…..

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Balance

I find it is all worth it. You can see it in the student’s eyes when they are learning something new or they accomplish something for someone else. You can sense the pride they feel and it is contagious. So this is my method to balance.

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Art Club

I am the Art Club advisor that includes our Homes for Haiti project and our Curbside Couture Recycle Runway Show, mixed in with multiple service learning projects.  This year we are taking on a project to help raise money for local area art programs in public schools.  We are painting canvas tabletop cloths for the Garden Society of America’s big Garden Convention that will be hosted here in Arkansas.  We will be painting flowers and butterflies onto canvas that will be sealed and serve as the tabletop decorations for the luncheon.  The paintings will then be auctioned off at the event and all the money raised will be given to the Thea Foundation.  Specifically, Thea’s Art Closet that helps to serve under supported visual art programs.  It’s a way to get my art students to make beautiful art for one organization and to help local art programs.  Keeping vibrant art programs alive with great art supplies helps students stay in school and helps our community grow in a positive direction by fueling creativity.

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Culinary Club

Culinary Club exposes students to cooking, meeting and learning from local chefs, assists students to gain knowledge about food and quality foods, and we get to explore culture through food.  With the cooperation of area chefs and home cooks we are able to teach students how to cook great healthy food.  Today we had our first event and our focus was Sushi.  It was so much fun watching students prep the food and learn how to prepare sushi rolls and to get creative with new sushi roll combinations.  Culinary Arts is an art form and learning to feed yourself is a life skill.

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Fishing Club

I am also the advisor for the Fishing Club in our school.  I have over thirteen years of experience working with young children and fishing.  This week we had the Arkansas Game and Fish education coordinator come and share how to teach youth about fishing.  We fish tournaments but we also focus on conservation and exposing other children about fishing.  One of our goals is to host a youth fishing derby to teach kids how to cast, identify fish species, and how to take care of our local resources.

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Fishing Class5

As much as this seems unrelated it is not. How to keep this all working? Is to teach young people to step up and be the student directors, mentor them to be organized, good communicators, good advocates, and stretch into the world for experts to help you with your goals. Tap the people who surround you. Other teachers in the building may have a skill set and an interest that would love to help you with a project. I work with the French teacher to support our Culinary Club and I tap several professionals outside my school to help support the Art Club and Fishing Team. You become involved in the school and the greater community. You build a network of support for more opportunities to enrich the young people in your lives. You gain pride in the projects and you gain stronger bonds with your school community.   Plus- YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE. When you make a difference so many other elements in your life fall into place.

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