Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts proudly presents the following interview with art teacher, Sherry White who teaches at Bauerschlag Elementary School in Clear Creek Independent School District.
How does art education benefit students?
Sherry White answers, "Art education challenges students to explore new ideas, think creatively, and take risks. Students are exposed to many techniques that include observational drawing, color theory, alternative ceramic firings, slab and coil ceramic techniques, weaving, digital graphics, watercolor, mixed medias, and sculptural materials. Every lesson taught in my program includes historical or cultural information as well as technique and skill development.
I display every student's work. I also work closely with the community and throughout the state to exhibit student work. Students develop interdisciplinary connections in my classroom that include the integration of science, social studies, math, and writing."
How can art education help all students succeed?
She says, “I think you can look back in history and see how all individuals can be successful in the arts.
Art education presents a new way for students to communicate and solve problems. The visual image becomes the story the child has to tell. I have been fortunate to be able to have children with disabilities in my class. I learn so much from them. After consulting with one student's teacher to determine what his educational needs were, I implemented several adaptive devices using technology to work with him. I found that Cubism made him smile! He would come to my room and touch the Picasso prints. Using a software program, I created a Picasso overlay and a computer program that he could use in the art unit. Over time, he gained a familiarity with the program and my room. He expressed excitement…it was a wonderful thing to see. It really changed how I thought about teaching art and working with kids."
Why do you teach art?
Sherry White notes, "I think being an art educator, you have many rewarding experiences and they are daily and they are frequent. That's what keeps you going.
I believe I became a fine arts teacher because I have always had fine arts in my life. I came from a family that cherished and supported fine arts. I grew up learning about the civilizations of Pompeii, the ancient Indians, Vincent van Gogh, and Picasso. At the age of eleven, I saw The Kiss, and that's when I developed my passion for sculpture. I get to relive my childhood memories by being an art teacher, and sometimes I believe I'm the only avenue students have to the arts. It is just part of who I am.
I stay an art teacher because I love my job. If you've ever worked with kindergarten children, they are the most amazing people in the world. They are so happy every time they see you. I love the way a student develops a passion for a project or a personal connection.
If I was talking with a student considering going into art education, I would try to persuade them. I think the best way would be to invite them to my room and let them see what a rewarding and gratifying daily experience you can have."
Why is it important to connect to students' cultural heritages?
Sherry White notes, "I think you need to connect to students' cultural heritages most importantly to validate them. I think you need to let them know that their family and their traditions are important. I think you need to let other children know that differences are important, that they make our world. And I think it also helps educate for more tolerance to differences."
How has art education changed since you began teaching?
She says, "I think the TEKS have given us a real guideline to work towards in our curriculum.
I think technology has impacted the fine arts in an incredible way. It allows teachers and students new avenues in which to communicate and expand their ideas. It allows students of different skill levels the opportunity to collaborate together. This allows children to be motivated in new ways. And, it also allows us access to an amazing world of knowledge to help us research and learn."
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