I got the request after I had been asked to do an art show at one of their fundraising banquets. Following that event I was invited to consider teaching art as the position had come open.
I had become aware of the healing powers of art in my own life. When I became aware of the fact that this was a school located
in the inner city set up specifically for “at risk inner city kids” who have not had success in the regular school system. I was interested.
Realising the power of healing I had personally experienced through my own journey of artistic creativity, I felt I possibly had
something I could offer. Also, with my residential Christian Camping experience of working with children, it seemed like a reasonable risk for me to consider taking the position.
It was not an easy year. I am sure, like me, you have had heard teachers talk about how tough their “first” years of school
really were. Therefore I knew this would be the worst part of the job, getting through the first year. And it was difficult. Every week I was under pressure to come up with a new art class for the students. That was a challenge and the source of a lot of pressure.
The second challenge was the never knowing what to expect in the classroom. Attendance was inconsistent, and then just difficult
life issues caused mental distress and emotional breakdowns, often right in the classroom.
I quickly discovered that my class was much more than an art class. It was also about life and how we live it. I spent a lot of
time just being a Dad to these kids answering their questions and sharing of my life. What an honor and humbling experience to realize the trust we have gained towards one another in this classroom.
I have to also admit that they have been part of making me a better artist. They have kept my artistic mind challenged to work
and grow. They have challenged me to articulate how we conceptualize a thought, problem or feeling. Then how to express that physically for all to see.
It has not always been easy, but wow, has it ever been rewarding.
It has grown me and made me a better artist and person. It has been rewarding to see the students change and grow. For all this I am thankful to the school and to my classroom of amazing students.
"I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." John Steinbeck