My mission as a visual arts educator is to celebrate all students through the arts, and I still hold to the principles that I adopted in college: a visual arts classroom should be student-centered and experiential. I strive to create a curriculum that is meaningful and relevant and allows children to know and understand their potential through the visual arts. All children begin their formative schooling developing creative thought through an art form (drawing, singing, acting) and yet, as they grow older, these art forms become secondary to core academics until finally, adolescents often find no use for the arts at all. For most of my career, I have taught foundational level courses in the visual arts to students that needed to take the class to meet a graduation requirement. In so doing, I have developed teaching methodologies that can persuade even the most doubting student to try his/her hand at art production in a sincere manner. Often, my students will remark that they thought they would hate the class, and it ended up being challenging and fun! I believe that all students can create successful artworks with well-planned teaching and developmentally appropriate curriculum.
In the upper-level classes that I teach, students come to class prepared and ready to learn. My job is to challenge them to think beyond the obvious, develop processes to communicate complex ideas, and refine technical skills. In these classes, students are motivated to create a body of work, meet deadlines, and develop a working pace that allows for a balance between the arts course, school life, and other academic classes. Student accomplishment because of intrinsic motivation is directly related to the trust and relationships built with my students. As a result, students develop authentic responses to curriculum that celebrate achievements relevant to individual success in the visual arts.
I appreciate the opportunity to work in the school environment where I can nurture and celebrate the accomplishments of the visual art student. In particular, I am most impressed with the ability of my students to build community through the learning process. Given the opportunity to use technology in the classroom, my students are willing learners and often find opportunities with interactive learning platforms and social media to expand education beyond the school day. The use of technology for blended learning in combination with hands-on instruction in the classroom allows me to differentiate curriculum for customized learning based on student interest. I am fortunate to teach in an age when information is readily available for student consumption and subsequent growth in the classroom. After all, education is not a one size fits all! Often, gifted and talented students take course work beyond expectations while students that need more time to read or process information have the time to think and collaborate. Regardless of ability, students can develop personalized approaches to education, and success is measured by personal accomplishment.