Art has been always been my thing. I loved drawing (especially orcas) before Kindergarten. Fortunately for me, as I grew up I had some of the best teachers. Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, so I thought I'd write a very personal thank you to my art teachers. Now, if I didn't narrow it down, I'd have a lot of teachers to thank and this blog post would become a novel... so I focused on my art, (and design) teachers, who encourage and supported me through school. My mom, several friends, and even a current client are teachers and I know it can be rewarding as well as tiring and difficult. I just want all the teachers out there to know that you make a difference!
Ms. P 2nd - 5th grade
Mrs. Preston is the first art teacher I remember, and she was at my elementary school when it opened and she’s still there now! Elementary school art is a fun time, and I had the opportunity to work on a lot of different projects in different mediums. Mrs. Preston always believed in my artistic abilities and let me draw my own thing after I had finished my assignment. At her urging I entered the local school district’s art show and won, which boosted my confidence in myself as an artist.
My mom is now a 4th grade teacher at my old elementary school and recently told me that Mrs. Preston asks about how I’m doing and kept one of my old dog drawings! :)
Ms. M 6th grade
The transition from an elementary school in your neighborhood to middle school is a tough year. There’s not much redeeming about 6th grade, but your classroom was the place I most looked forward to. In elementary school the projects are very structured, and in your class there was a degree of freedom in our choice of subject. I still have a few graphite drawings from your class! In your class we made linocut prints, which is something I had never done before and never had the opportunity to do until after college because I remembered doing it in your class.
When I got into college you sent me a very kind email, and I can’t tell you how much that piece of writing warmed my heart. I look back on it when times are tough and always smile. Thank you.
Ms B (Now Mrs. G) 7th-8th grade
Most of my fond memories of middle school took place in your classroom. In 7th and 8th grade art class, I was able to make more artistic friends, and art class was a time where I could be social while doing my favorite thing in the whole world. You let us use your computer to search for reference images on the internet! You let us compile a class playlist for us to listen to! I saved a lot of art from this time and became more comfortable with my style.
A while ago I googled your classroom and I’m delighted by the creativity you bring to the classroom, which in turn inspires student artwork.
Mrs E-M 9th-12th grade
I won’t lie, when I was a freshman your temper scared me a little bit, and your numerous eccentricities made me wonder if you’d like my art. I didn’t know until I was a senior and about to graduate, but you really believed in me. I didn’t see it all along, but when I was constantly going up to your desk to show you what I was working on, you were always brutally honest and encouraged me to experiment and push my boundaries as an artist. You forced me to draw feet when I didn’t want to, and to redraw the parts of my pieces that needed improvement. But beneath the nerdy, snarky exterior the softer side let me finish APUSH homework, nap and eat lunch in the art storage room. The art room was a special place, every nook and cranny labeled with a quirky saying (like labeling the cubby for rulers "kings and queens" or how the word "gullible" was actually written on the ceiling), photo, every inch of wall-space painted by students past.
You took all art students under your wing like this, and you didn't take shit from any of the "teenaged beasts" that would terrify other teachers. You would occasionally give us handouts with secrets to making art that seemed totally obvious in retrospect, but I didn't understand until you put it right in front of our faces. You told the art students that they'd better get good grades on projects that had an art component, and for good measure you asked us about our grades to confirm your suspicion: that good artists are actually good English and Social Studies students. For most of high school you called me "Liz" instead of Lin, and it wasn't until I found the "rules of the art room" printed and taped onto a filing cabinet, where I found that "if the art teacher likes you she makes up a nickname for you".
When I was a senior you battled cancer, and though you had beaten it by the time I graduated, I found out a few years ago that you passed away. I hope that, wherever you are, you know how much you had an impact on my and other student's lives, and I hope you'd be proud of me.
Ms T 10th-12th grade
T!! I know you're not exactly an "art" teacher but I did a lot of art in your classroom, and so I'm including you here. So thank you. Without your guidance, I may have ended up in a totally different career path. Art is something I’ve always been able to count on to express myself and make me a happier person, but taking your class and hanging out in your independent study made me realize that a career in design was a possibility. I learned a lot had a ton of fun in your classroom making the prom invitations, working on the school website, creating animations for our football stadium, and participating in SkillsUSA.