The Hands and Heart of an Art Teacher

At the end of art camp yesterday, I looked down to see my hands full of paint from a creative day of work. Now what other job can you get your hands this dirty and love it? Driving home I started thinking about when and why I decided to become an art teacher. How did I get so super lucky? Because I really love what I do. Being an artist is a very fulling job as well, but teaching children and adults to appreciate, love and enjoy art is my true passion. I've been working lessons and planning this summer series for hours. My children and I have been busy making samples, collecting materials and planning the day's activities.

So why teach? I entered Auburn's Fine Arts program completely naive to the opportunities available to an artist. I'd taken one class at my first college and fallen in love with the creating process. Upon entering Auburn for year 2, my Mother and I walked right into Biggin Hall and spoke with the Dean of Fine Arts about my being an Art major. He said here's what you need to take and welcome!

I was a very diligent student. All the other art majors had a leg up on me because most had portfolios from High School. I hung on to every teacher's word and worked at every assignment with enthusiasm. My favorite classes by far were art history. Not so much the intense tests, but the learning about art and it's evolving was just fascinating to me. Then during my 4th year the lithography teacher asked me, "Jenni, what do you plan to do with this art degree once you are done?" Now, this is my 4th year, and not once had anyone broached the subject with what you actually do as a practicing artist. I reflect now that there really should be a course on how to submit to galleries, what shows can do for your career, developing a website, etc. Auburn was seriously laking in this area. I suppose that most of the professors of Art were actually artists, and not necessarily art educators. I see this now that I am a teacher myself. And although they taught their medium with expertise, they did lack in teaching more about how you become an ARTIST. So my reply was this, "I think I want to be an art teacher." He said point blank, "No you don't." Keep in mind that at Auburn the football coach makes over a million a year, lives in a mansion and has the world literally at his fingertips. The art professors were teaching in a less than desirable building situation (bats were our pets) and had salaries less than probably what I make now. So his saying no I did not was not meant to discourage, but to encourage my moving in a different direction. But I didn't, and I took a year to become certified. Again eager to learn how to teach and inspire children. I remember being so eager during that year that I was probably a bit obnoxious.

So here I am 13 years later, still teaching and inspiring others. I am very fortunate for the opportunity to do both at this point in my life, work as an artist and teach others. I am amazed at how much I learn from students as well. And I always look forward to new workshops and new techniques. Like Art and Soul in Las Vegas Valerie and I have in the works for February.

I leave you today with this quote I happened upon last night,
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams. And this is exactly what I intend to do...........


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