Art Legacy

The Legacy  by Stanley Bleifeld. Do not use photo without permission.

The Legacy by Stanley Bleifeld. Do not use photo without permission.

As art educators, we often hope that what goes on in our classrooms will spark or fan the flame of a future Ringgold, Picasso, Kahlo, Haring or Van Gogh, but how often do we consider the art legacy we are nurturing among our close friends and family? Let’s not discount the impact that our passion for the arts can make among those closest to us.

My first art lessons came from my dad at the dinner table..drawing cowboys. He was a maker. Shells gathered on vacation became a mosaic on masonite scraps he brought home from a construction site. He built step stools for all of his nieces and nephews. He loved decorating for Christmas and even made some of the displays.

My mother and her sisters loved to sew, crochet, embroider and two of them especially loved painting. My aunt Sibyl had a beautiful old cabinet filled with craft paint and a basket full of gourds, oyster shells and cypress stumps. When we came for a visit we were always welcomed to sit and paint.

And then, I married into a wonderful family that valued the arts and nourished my talent. When I began painting classes in my late twenties, my mother-in-law and father-in-law were my very first patrons. They also introduced me to the work of a relative, my father-in-law’s first cousin, sculptor Stanley Bleifeld.

Melody Weintraub with Stanley Bleifeld at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, “It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon.” Do not use photo without permission.

Melody Weintraub with Stanley Bleifeld at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, “It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon.” Do not use photo without permission.

Knowing Stanley had a huge influence on my career. As soon as Stanley knew I was taking watercolor classes, he and his wife Nicky shared a book with me by their close friend, Burton Silverman, a master watercolorist. Stanley always seemed like an icon to me. I only met in him in person for the first time after my father-in-law passed away in 1993, but I heard so much about him from my in-laws on their visits to his art openings around the world and visits to his studio in Pietrasanta, Italy. Life Magazine featured Stanley early in his career. Stanley’s work included the Vatican Pavillion Bas Relief at the 1964 World’s Fair, The Lone Sailor at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, several statues at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial- It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon and ironically enough…The Legacy.

My in-laws bought a rather large scaled bronze of The Legacy, which now lives at our house. My mother-in-law asked me to make a card with a quote for it when she first brought it home, which Stanley liked to associate with the sculpture. It’s from John Mellencamp, “There is nothing more sad or glorious than generations changing hands.”

Later this month, I will be presenting a lecture for the Virginia Art Education Association on the work of Stanley, specifically the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial and how his work can be used in the classroom. Our family had a reunion at the dedication of this monument. I have thought a lot about legacy in the last several months. Stanley left behind a large looming legacy in our family.

Painting with my grandson. Do not use photo without permission.

Painting with my grandson. Do not use photo without permission.

I often wonder what kind of art influence I am nurturing among my family and friends; hopefully those art camps with my children in my garage, drawing and painting with my grandson, painting rocks with my nieces and nephews at the lake house and family crafts at Thanksgiving will become more than a memory..hopefully it will become something that will transcend beyond the changing of hands for generations to come.

Sustainable Design


Sustainable-of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged—Merriam-Webster

My students are working in small groups to design a sustainable city. It’s actually an application of a lesson in linear perspective. First, we discuss the detrimental effects of things like pollution and plastics on our environment. Next, we talk about city design. We look at ways that some communities are dealing with these issues. I teach in a religious school, so we also talk about how we should be “good stewards” of this gift of our Creator.


Next I discuss the roles of each member of this “City Design Group.”

Project Manager-Facilitator who works with all members to make sure that everything is going smoothly and that the list of criteria is being followed.

Bid Manager/Writer-This person writes down all suggestions and keeps a tally of what everyone needs to accomplish the task.

Time Keeper/Monitor- This person is in charge of keeping everything on schedule and watches the clock for 5 minutes of clean-up before class ends.

Architect- This person draws out the city that is decided upon by the group. Others may help add color, but this person does the drawing.


As I walk around and observe the process of these students learning to work together, I remind them that all ideas that group members offer should be considered. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to ensure that everyone has a voice. I also began to notice a trend. The students who were working most cooperatively, giving everyone a voice, supporting one another in their roles, seem to make the most progress in their work.

In one group, a student architect “demanded” that he be allowed to just do his own job without any interference. This dispute seemed to be causing his group to make little progress. I also noticed that the other group members seemed to want to assume his role, because he didn’t want to listen to criticism or suggestions. When I pointed this out to them, I tried to speak from both of their perspectives. I reminded the architect that although it was his job to draw, his responsibility was to draw what is suggested by his group. If people do not feel they have a voice, they will try to assume your position. He understood. His group members nodded.


This event caused me to think about “sustainability” in a different context and from a different “perspective.” Do we realize the importance of sustaining our working relationship with others at our schools, in our homes and in our communities? Not only do we need to constantly seek new ways to keep our planet’s resources sustainable, but since we live and work together with others who think and act differently than we do, we must work hard to move past our differences and find common ground where we can work together. If we simply focus on how others are keeping us from doing our job, then we are not open to the real possibility that others may have a significant impact on how to help us do our job better. Instead of focusing on how others are not listening to us, perhaps we could focus more on listening to them. Instead of focusing on how others are never going to change, perhaps we should focus more on the direction they are moving. Giving others a voice in decision making empowers everyone to want to engage in more meaningful conversations which may help us all focus more on a unified purpose. Above all, when we engage with others, we should do so with an attitude of respect and love.

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”- Philippians 2:3-4

By the way, that group made some progress today. When I asked what changed, they all agreed that it was because they were having more discussions and writing down more ideas. They were being energized by one another. That would be “sustainable” energy. Shine on!

First Week of School and Fresh Starts

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Okay..I have a confession to make..I have always loved the first week of a student..a parent and a teacher. The first week of school with fresh supplies, new backpacks and most of all a fresh start to a brand new year. The first day of school filled my heart with hope. I always had the sense as a student that, THIS is the year that I will pull it all together, make better grades, do all my homework, read the ENTIRE book assigned and never be late for school again. I projected that great expectation to my children as we shopped K-Mart for the coolest super-hero lunch boxes and Lisa Frank know the ones..and as the student lists unfolded before our eyes on decorated doors we entered the classroom together. I still occasionally call my grown children to see how they're doing with ballpoint pens when I see the back-to-school sales at Office Depot. Old habits are hard to break.

 As a teacher I have those same feelings of renewal. I want to be a better teacher this year. I want to engage my students more. I want to give them more choices and instill more independency in their art making. I want to ask more questions instead of giving more answers. I want to learn new skills and be introduced to new materials so that I can share them. I want to learn what I can do to be a better teacher. And I really feel that THIS is the year! I need to remember that my students feel that way too. So, although its a good idea to spend the first week going over rules, procedures and expectations, it's also a good idea to set aside a little time to give them a reason to want to come back tomorrow. So, on Friday of the first week of school, we set the syllabus and made a little macramé swag for their portfolios. After all, they have brand new portfolios and it's a brand new year!


Share Like An Art Teacher!

Debi Dunavant West and me at NAEA18.

Debi Dunavant West and me at NAEA18.

Debi Dunavant West has a saying she uses quite a lot, "Together We Art Better." She ought to know. She has received numerous awards for teaching including Georgia State Educator of the Year (2009) and National Elementary Art Educator of the Year (2005). There are more. Her students have received numerous awards as well. She is a powerful speaker/motivator. She also writes for several national publications. Debi believes in sharing. I do too.

Early in my art career, I was hesitant to share. Probably insecurity. It followed me early into my art teaching career. Not sure why. I guess I thought that I wanted to be the only person with such a great idea. Which in itself is a bad idea. Then after attending my first NAEA Convention, I realized that I was indeed NOT the only art teacher with good ideas. (Someone else designed cereal boxes? Really?) I was amazed at how freely the presenters shared what worked for them. That inspired me to "grab" what I could from others and give back what had worked for me in the classroom. 

Donalyn and me Co-Presenting at NAEA Convention in 2009.

Donalyn and me Co-Presenting at NAEA Convention in 2009.

Then in 2007, I was recruited by The University of Memphis to teach Art Education. Sharing became a way of life for me. It became the kind of giving with no regrets. My colleague at the university, Dr. Donalyn Heise modeled that kind of giving for me. Knowing that what I had learned, lessons that rocked, methods that motivated could be multiplied into the classrooms of others was exhilarating! When I returned to the classroom, I was then able to use my own advice, tweak some old lessons and create new ones, based on the feeling that what I was doing could be shared later with others I sometimes mentor. That's also where this blog came from as well as my YouTube Channel demos.

Nancy Walkup and me at NAEA 18 SchoolArts Vendors Booth.

Nancy Walkup and me at NAEA 18 SchoolArts Vendors Booth.

Writing has now also become a way of mentoring. I primarily write for SchoolArts Magazine. This has been a wonderful way for me to share and also inspires me to create new lessons, try them out and then write about them. I take lots of high quality images of students working, as well as photos of materials set up and products. When I know that I might write about it, I send out media permissions for parents to sign, so I'll be ready to submit.

If you have a great lesson, that's never been published, I highly recommend that you submit the lesson to a publication like SchoolArts in order to share it. Nancy Walkup is the Editor.
The link for the Writers Guidelines is below:

Here is one of the latest article I had published. It appeared in the March 2018 issue which was distributed at the NAEA 2018 Convention in Seattle. Enjoy and uh...feel free to Share Like An Art Teacher!

Getting Back to the Basics-Exerpt from My MTAEA Keynote


On May 30, I delivered a Keynote Address to the Middle Tennessee Art Teachers at The Frist in Nashville. This was not my first presentation, but it was my first keynote. For weeks I deliberated over what to say and how to say it until I was reminded that it might be better to think about what those teachers needed to hear at the close of the school year. Or as a retired teacher-friend reminded me, "Remember, Mel, they are exhausted." Once I focused on them instead of myself, everything fell into place. Here are a few excerpts. If you are a teacher too, I hope it will uplift and encourage you.

Today I'd like to explore two basic questions: 1) How can we motivate students? and 2) How can we motivate ourselves? We are, at times, oceans apart from our students..socially, demographically, emotionally…We don’t always know what’s going on in their heads or their lives..we might THINK we do. And we also probably have no idea how much it means for them to come to art. Art class for these students can be more than a place where they learn about the Principles of Art and Design, or where they learn to identify masterpieces, or where they learn skills, techniques and methods. It can be more that a place where they learn to draw..forms. Don't get me wrong, these things are important but they cannot be all that we teach anymore. We have to help students utilize these tools to make connections and respond to the world around them.


Can we make students LIKE art? No. But we can design lessons where their concerns are addressed and where they feel connected. Can we make students HATE art? Absolutely. Isn't that scary? However, if we give students more choices within their lessons, and if we design lessons they can relate to, art class can be that place where they feel safe to express their own uniquely wonderful voice.

How can we motivate ourselves? 1) Find an Interest (unrelated to teaching). Not only do we need a break, but it will make us more interesting as teachers. 2) Find a Workshop. Learning new skills and techniques always seems to rejuvenate my teaching! 3) Find a Group. Following a positive professional group of art educators via social media or meeting for coffee or dinner regularly makes for meaningful dialogue and can be a springboard for new ideas.


A few weeks ago, I commented on a post by a discouraged art teacher. What I said to her, I'd like to say to you today. I’d like to say how much I appreciate everything you do EVERYDAY for your students. I appreciate all the worrying, planning, lifting, stacking, measuring, pouring, monitoring, CLEANING, distributing, listening, caring, inspiring, questioning, reading, writing, assessing, drawing, painting, printing, sculpting, installing, emailing, classroom managing, and teaching you do every single day and the next. I appreciate all the projects you bring home because there’s just not time enough in one day to breathe. I appreciate all the Friday’s you work until it’s too late to go to dinner with friends. I appreciate your choosing to become an art teacher..your students’ lives are different because of YOU!  You don’t make it different by teaching stuff. You make it different by showing up and unlocking a door. That door just happens to be to your classroom and it just happens to be to their imagination. You make it different because you bring them to a place where they can express how they feel about what's going on in THEIR world.


..and for 45 minutes they might be expressing how they feel about these problems or they might just be able to process they work on getting the textures just right on that collograph or fixing the crack in their ceramic slab or altering the pages of an old discarded book..or gluing snowflakes on a piece of blue construction paper. So, when they take a little longer on projects, maybe it’s because they're still working on some deeper issues...But that student who has faced those challenges this year would probably tell you, “Maybe I didn’t always show it, or tell you, but Art saved my life this year. Some days, it is why I even showed up for school. You called me by name, and you saw potential in me. I saw my friends feel better about themselves not because of art, but because of you."

Thank you, Teachers. Have a great summer! 

Armchair Studio


Some people make art daily in their lives. They are not necessarily art teachers or professional artists, but they make everything around their lives more beautiful by just living. A little illustration on the outside of a box you get in the mail, vignettes around their home, the way a table is set or food is served, and the list goes on. Several years ago, a dear friend and mentor, Lynda Letey passed away. When I went to her home in Phoenix after the service, I was especially touched by a little table next to her favorite armchair. Nestled on the small table, was a perfect basket filled with colored pencils and brushes, and beside the basket and her Bible was a sketchbook. I thought back to all the lovely notes I had received from her that included her illustrations which have always been treasures to me.

We tell our students that in order to improve their art, they need to make art and keep visual journals outside of the time they spend in the art classroom. But how many of us practice this as well? “Use it or lose it,” is a mantra that also applies to art educators. I know that unless I have an upcoming exhibit or a teaching workshop, I am spending little time in my studio upstairs and more time in my favorite chair watching British mysteries on Netflix with my family. So, I decided to set up a portable studio next to my chair, so that I will practice what I preach to my students.


I keep an assortment of supplies accessible, such as my Windsor Newton Travel Palette, a small jar of water, an inspirational magazine, an assortment of brushes, markers, drawing pens, colored pencils, drawing supplies, a set of watercolor cards and envelopes, a small pad of watercolor postcards and my sketchbook. I use images that I have taken on my cell phone for references, work from a small still life, or I just paint designs. Sometimes, I keep these small studies to send as cards to friends and family or to frame and give as gifts. One Christmas, I hand painted 350 Holiday cards and at our open house, I let everyone select a card-size painting as a parting gift. 


I am finding that the convenience and accessibility of these supplies inspires me to build a healthy habit of making art every day. And every day, I am reclaiming a personal love for making art. This enthusiasm cannot help but trickle into my teaching. Sometimes I will share with students what I am painting from this little nook. Hopefully my practice will inspire them as well to make art daily in their lives. 


The Power of Staples

Richard Lou addressing art teachers at the West TN Art Ed Spring Conference. Photo by Melody Weintraub

Richard Lou addressing art teachers at the West TN Art Ed Spring Conference. Photo by Melody Weintraub

"Art That Builds Community," was the theme of our West Tennessee Art Ed Spring Conference yesterday at The University of Memphis (UM). Our Keynote address was given by Richard Lou, UM Art Department Chair. He started his talk by first commending the group for choosing to teach art. He then shared the impact that those who taught him about art made on his early life. Next he took us on a visual journey through a project he was part of in the early 90's, "The Borders Sutures Project, " where he and a team of artists traveled the boundaries between Mexico and The United States placing large iron staples in the earth between the borders to make a statement about healing. I was emotionally impacted to see the power of art to communicate a message so passionately and peacefully. It impacted me on multiple levels.

"Ceramic Cherub," glazed by Ruth Hryhorchuk (circa 1968). Photo by Melody Weintraub.

"Ceramic Cherub," glazed by Ruth Hryhorchuk (circa 1968). Photo by Melody Weintraub.

The healing aspect of the project reminded me of the ways that I have witnessed art being used therapeutically as people I know have faced adversity. I recalled how my sweet mother took a ceramics class in the late 60's as she went through cancer treatment. I thought of the oil painting class my mother-in-law and I attended when her daughter passed away. I think of countless individuals who took my community watercolor classes to "escape" life changes. I think of how art has been my healing balm time and time again. Even my children's book, "The Little Bluebird," began as a personal memorial gift for my dear friend after the loss of her young son. Some of the most powerful and memorable art in the world was created out of a need to make sense of life.


"Broken," by 8th Grade student. Photo by Melody Weintraub. 

"Broken," by 8th Grade student. Photo by Melody Weintraub. 

Then my thoughts turn to the staples from "The Sutures Project," and how staples hold things together to keep them from falling apart, as Richard said, "So that the healing can begin." I teach middle school, so I have always seen my role as an educator more as a directional guide as students face the crossroads of life. However, after hearing Richard's talk and seeing the staples, I see that as art educators, we are also the staples. The art classroom can be that place that is the constant for these students, the stability through the instability of life. The safe place where students can reflect and express their emotional responses to the situations they face. Art class can be the constant until the healing can begin. As a teacher in a religious school, I can remind students of their faith that transcends any temporal issue. Or as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently penned, "Faith is taking the first step when you don't see the whole staircase." But all art teachers can remind students of the power of art to express, to heal and  to make a difference in a world that at times seems like it is falling apart. Perhaps the best way to remind them is to model this in our own lives and to never underestimate the power of staples. 



As we approach the last couple of months of the school year, my 8th Grade Honors Art students are working on a grid drawing of an assortment of candy. This project began as a photo project which began as a composition project. Since I love to weave "choice" into my lessons whenever possible, I asked students for a list of candy I should buy for this lesson. They complied. Imagine that! After I supplied all of the delectable delights Walgreens had to offer, students were instructed to choose an odd number and variety of candy, and to position the candy in a random fashion on a piece of white paper. Next students were to take a cropped photo of this assemblage. I spoke briefly to them about camera angles and lighting and showed them how to enhance the lighting on their iPhones. They then printed their photos out and, using a grid transparency, they made another copy of the photos. They could skip the last step, if they used a GRID App to take the photo in the first place. Next students lightly drew a one-inch grid on the surface of a 15 x 20-inch piece of illustration board. 

Since this wasn't the first time these students had done a grid drawing, I gave them a few tips and told them if they needed to review, they could revisit my YouTube Channel's Lesson on Drawing Using a Grid which is posted at the end of this entry. They began with a line drawing which I periodically checked for accuracy. Some of them are now at the point where they will begin shading the drawing this week, referring to the gradient scale they made back in the Fall.

After students finish shading, they will add watercolor and colored pencil to complete this realistic drawing. Yes, they will add these right on top of the graphite.

I have been working on this project along with the students; drawing and painting a little ahead, so that I can better guide them with this lesson. It also seems to be inspirational for them to see my painting develop. However, they are all working at a different pace. And this project is a perfect example of how students approach learning differently.

Some of the students who are naturally talented at sketching, or who sketch a lot, seem to veer away from the grid and use a little “artistic license” when it comes to using the photo reference. Others move slower constantly having to find their place on the grid, while still others who meticulously follow the grid are pleasantly surprised at how well their drawings are coming together. 

As a teacher, I want my students to know my expectations, but I do not want to “standardize” their outcomes. I want them to learn from this project, I want them to stretch their talents and skills, but most of all, I want them to have a positive learning experience. I know that not all of their drawings will be at the same skill level. But it is my hope that each child will find something learned from this lesson that will help them with the next, or cause them to look a little closer at a work of art in a gallery, or notice how the Friday night lights effect the Tootsie Pop they buy at the ballgame. 

Writing on Wednesdays

Students writing about Roy Lichtenstein's, "M-Maybe" (1965) Photo by Melody Weintraub

Students writing about Roy Lichtenstein's, "M-Maybe" (1965) Photo by Melody Weintraub

There is a new "tradition" with artists in my Middle School Art Classes. It is known as "Writing on Wednesdays." They know that on Wednesdays they have the green light to bring their laptops to explore a new painting specifically chosen for it's era or style. Sixth Grade (since I only have them for 9 weeks) is exploring the Impressionist Period. Since I have Seventh and Eighth Grade Students every day all year, Seventh Grade is working it's way through Post-Impressionism through Pop-Art and Eighth Grade is looking at Pop-Art through Contemporary Art. The writing formats vary from a formal critique (A.K.A. Art Investigation) to prompts in which students might write a letter to a friend describing a painting, write a short story based on a painting, or even write Haiku based on experiencing a painting using their five senses. If students are in the middle of an art process mid week and unable to pause, we might choose to have Writing on Wednesdays on...a Friday or Monday. Last Wednesday, I was not prepared for what transpired during my Sixth Grade Art Class! I put students in Investigating Teams. Using a handout which I created, students were to observe the "evidence" of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party and collect their data. What ensued was a very passionate argument regarding the content of the painting. It was wonderful. I tried hard not to smile too much. I don't think I'll ever have to remind them again who painted it or what it looks like. As students were leaving one student turned to me and said, "I love Writing on Wednesdays, Mrs. Weintraub! It's so much fun!" What's fun for me  is seeing these future Artists, Lawyers, Teachers, and Doctors connecting to Art in a whole new way. So, one day, maybe 20 years from now, when they are walking through the Art Institute of Chicago they just might take a second look at certain Renoir.

Teaching Students to Care

"World Peace." Photo by Melody Weintraub

"World Peace." Photo by Melody Weintraub

I've taught Middle School Art for many years. I've seen my teaching evolve from just teaching students how to make or draw things into why to make and draw things. In order to teach them "why" sometimes I must help them look at issues that they face and how those issues are connected to issues facing our world. For many of these students, this is the first time they have considered that their art could be used to communicate something that they are passionate about. I feel a responsibility to teach them the skills necessary to communicate this message. I believe that craftsmanship in art is as important as good writing and delivery is in a powerful speech. It needs to be consistent with the message and not distract from it. Showing them examples of art speaking they can see the variety of ways that other artists have communicated; Picasso's "Guernica," Ringgold's, "For The Women's House," Goya's "The Third of May 1808", for example. While exploring issues, I write down these themes on the board. This way students also learn the importance of conversation. I have seen them then begin to use this tool of collaborative exploration in constructing their own art. Sometimes they will even ask other students to help them develop ideas. I am always amazed at the results. Recently a student decided to explore the theme of "addiction," in creating his self-portrait. The result was a tonal portrait of himself chained inside a doorway but reaching to the outside where in the reflection of his glasses we see the colors of a beautiful day. One of the chains is broken. It is about gaining freedom from his addiction to video games, and wanting to play outside with his friends. What a transparent and powerful message from an 8th Grade student! But then so is the simplest of designs like the one carved on a ceramic cylinder--"World Peace." Theodore Roosevelt once said that, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Perhaps the best way we can teach students to care is by starting conversations and listening to them. 

Summer Plans?

So now that the art room is packed up and the totes full of planning books are stuffed next to your favorite chair at home, what's the plan for your summer break? Many of us have good intentions about making time to think about getting some ideas together, but then it's all too easy to flit away these balmy summer months with no plans at all..uh..and we all know how that works for us in the art classroom...NOT! It's true that we all need a "break" and there's nothing wrong with taking one. There is also nothing wrong with "scheduling" a break either, so that we maximize the time off and make the best use of these days. Or all too soon, we will look back and see they were swept away by Candy Crush, Facebook, Netflix and...nothing.

Setting Goals

Setting personal goals for the summer is a good place to start. Just make sure when you are setting them that they are reachable, or you will wind up being frustrated that you weren't able to accomplish anything. Want to paint more? Visit a museum? Volunteer at a Community Center? Write? Submit? Read? Draw? Make? Learn? Plan? Travel? Make a list. Keep it simple and reachable. What is reachable for some might not be reachable for others. Don't stress over it. We are all wired differently. Also, don't get goals confused with desires. Our desires are what should drive our goals. "Writing" is a goal. "Getting Published" is a desire. 

Setting Priorities

Now that you have made a concise list, number it in order of priorities. What is at #1? #2? #3?This will help you as you schedule your time devoted to each. Your goals do not need to have equal time. Some are more important to you, your career and your well-being than others and that's just okay.

Setting Schedules

Once you have prioritized your goals, decide how much time you will devote to each. For instance, if my #1 goal is to write, I might set aside at least one hour every morning to spend writing. Painting might be a secondary goal, but it may devote more time because of it's process, so I might set a painting goal to twice a week at 3 hours a pop. Setting these goals into your calendar helps tremendously when planning other life events of the summer. For instance, knowing that you plan to write each day from 8:00-9:00, helps you plan other events starting at 10:00. Or it might mean rising a little earlier if something else is planned.

Setting your Mind

A wise administrator once told a group of teachers that the most important thing I can do for students is to be interested in something other than teaching. That's a hard call for me, since I am so passionate about teaching, but think about it. If we are interested in something, it ignites our energy. When we bring that energy into the classroom, it sparkles. Use the summer break to pursue an interest, even if it's #5 on your list and see how it energizes everything else. You will find more time to do the things you love and love the things you do. 

Be Present

Summertime for me is a wonderful time to spend with my family. Nothing can be more frustrating to others than to visit with someone who is hypnotized by their mobile devices. Setting goals and scheduling helps us to enjoy the real world. The world we truly live for. If we are preoccupied by thinking of "more constructive" things to be doing, we just might miss a golden moment along the journey that will not return. The Bible says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21) No matter how ambitious, we present for those we love. One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Patricia Clifford, “The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you finish the work.” 

Exiting Ticket, Please?

Well, it's that time of year again, when we scrape the last paint from the jars, try a new squeeze on the Elmer's, and run by Dollar Tree on our own nickel for pencils, in hopes of finding just enough to finish out the year in Art. We all know that we must begin the summer packing a little sooner than most, since we have more stuff than most that needs packing away before the summer elves arrive to wax our floors and paint our walls. So while we are dismantling our visual displays, bulletin boards and posters like every year, we hopelessly never seem to learn that what goes up in August, must come down in May. In any event, during these days of sorting and purging, packing and tossing, we don't want to forget that we are still in the business of sowing visions and building dreams in the lives of those young people who walk into our classrooms every day. True, we'd really like for them to finish that painting..shade that drawing and glaze that pinch pot..but we also have an assignment to finish well. What will we give them to stash in their backpack of memories about Art? What will our students take with them beyond the canvas and portfolio of art? What kind of "exiting ticket" will we give them in these last days of school? What can we prompt them to think about over the summer or over their journey of life? What kind of positive praise can we share with them? We truly may not have the time to write a personal message to each student, but we could give them each a word on a piece of paper that best describes them in a positive way. I researched a list of positive traits and found one at . Although there are some traits on this list of over 200 words that we should refrain from using with students, this list might help us get started in the right direction. Or maybe we could share Howard Gardner's list of multiple intelligences with the class and help students in the quest to discover their gifts Maya Angelou said it best, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” How will we make them feel as they exit the art room for summer break?