An Art Cart and a Heart for Art

NJ Teachers’ Lounge is excited to continue its Teachers of New Jersey series in 2017. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the series, it now comes out twice a month. This editorial series is curated by photojournalist, Gregory Andrus, creator of the social media series, Portraits of the Jersey Shore. These stories highlight the joys, struggles, and personal reflections that surround being a teacher.

“I teach at two tiny, one-district schools. I teach at Eagleswood Elementary, which has about 150 students, and I teach at Bass River Elementary, which has about 110 students. I am an art teacher, and they both are one class per grade, so I try to do the same plan for each school. Monday and Friday I am at Eagleswood, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I am at Bass River. I teach from a cart, and I wheel around my lessons from class to class. I call, it my ‘Art cart.'”

“I love art, I love creating, and I love showing the kids that they can do something that they didn’t think they could. For example, My 3rd grade class recently did a ‘Lady Liberty’ with pastels. I had them do red, white and blue on a white sheet of paper, with the chalk, and then we rubbed it to make it blurry, and we had black chalk, and we all drew in the Statue of Liberty’s face. They say, ’We can’t do this!’ They were so down on themselves. And I told them, ‘Guys, you know we do this together. I will guide you through the steps.’ At first they were saying, ‘This doesn’t look like it.’ But after they completed all of the steps, they could see it. And suddenly they were saying, ‘This looks like it! This is great!’ One of my parents messaged me and told me she made her daughter’s piece her profile picture for the 4th of July.”

“I incorporate art into all of the elementary subjects, like math, or science. We talk about African art for example, and talk about how the women carry baskets on their heads, because stuff feels 30% lighter on your head than if you were carrying it in our arms. And I have the kids try it themselves. So that is science.”

“My proudest moment was winning Teacher of the Year in Bass River. A committee of teachers, the principal and parents selected me, and they told me it was because of how helpful I was to everybody, my enthusiasm, and how inclusive I was with my teaching, and that meant a lot to me. Parents tell me that their kids want to get their own sketchbooks because they want to sketch at home, too, and then the kids bringing it in to show me what they did at home. The kids really respond to how I incorporate art into math, the sciences, etc. Because I tell them, ‘Art is not just on my cart, art is everywhere. It is all around you.’ And they really get that from what I teach them.”

martin@percycole.com'
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