As an art teacher, some days are really long. Sometimes classes are overcrowded. Sometimes we stay a couple of hours after everyone else has left, just to clean up and prepare supplies for the next day. Sometimes we feel ignored and our efforts overlooked. We think about that as we scrape pallets and struggle with missing marker caps. Sometimes others don't share our passion for the value of teaching the arts. Sometimes we wonder if we are really making a difference at all. Then that student walks into our classroom. He's a little taller than the rest at an age when everyone is just trying to blend in and find a niche. Maybe we are teaching clay that week and wondering how on earth we can possibly show twenty-four middle school students how to throw on the wheel. We decide to start with that one student after school one day when he comes in to hang out before guitar lessons. That student wraps his oversized hands around that clay over and over again until he gets it centered. Then he throws that small bowl over and over again. Wedging it between throwing like he'd been working with clay for years. He is patient and methodical until he gets it right. You decide you have found help teaching the twenty-four. You knight him as the "Clay Expert" and he begins coaching his peers on the wheel the next day. You go to his wrestling tournaments. You cheer him on. Later he takes art in high school, he decides Art College is his best route. He comes back from time to time to visit. You go to his MFA show and continue to cheer him on. Then one day, his mother sends you a link to a feature article about his work in Memphis Magazine. You weep when you read the second paragraph as you remember that lanky 6th Grade future sculptor:
What was your first attempt at art and how did your passion develop?
"I actually didn't until middle school. In 6th grade I had to choose between choir and art, and I had no desire to sing. Mrs. Weintraub, my teacher through middle school really is the reason I am an artist today. She would let me stay after school and throw on the pottery wheel, give me the specific artists to look up for techniques, and get me to help her with props for the school plays. More than anything, she pushed me and made sure that I never settled for one medium and always tried new materials." http://memphismagazine.com/the-memo/a-onversation-with-sculptor-colton-berretta/
Don't ever feel you are not making a difference. You are making a difference with one student at a time. #Thanksgiving