Friday, August 19, 2016


School is a busy place to be, even in the summer. It's especially busy in the weeks and days leading up to the first day of school for students! You'll find cars in the parking lot outside at all hours of the day, lots of them...custodians and maintenance folks wrapping up summer projects to spruce up the school and grounds (our school looks AMAZING!!!), and teachers. Lots of teachers, some of us wearing yoga pants and Star Wars t-shirts, all busy working on bulletin boards and classrooms, prepping for meet the teacher night. First impressions are important! 

I spent a lot of extra time in my room organizing supplies in cupboards and on shelves, decorating, developing new ideas that can improve what I do and how kids experience art, but I also spent time decorating the lobby. It's extra, but it's significant. It's the first handshake you receive when you walk through the door. You learn a lot about our building when you enter it.

Check out that glitter and those globs of splatter paint....I painted and glittered up the lettering on my living room floor while listening to the Olympics. My husband wasn't impressed by the glitter.....oops!...anyway...On the day I started working on the lobby wall I had my daughter with me at school. It can be boring for teachers kids to hang out at school all day while their parents work on setting up their classrooms but Clare McKee was a trooper! Seriously, that kid could be an Olympic gold medal helper! She was such a fantastic helper in my classroom, refilling crayon boxes and marker bins with new supplies, sorting the scrap paper bin, writing our last name inside the new books I brought to school for the art classroom, organizing the book shelf. IT. WAS. AWESOME. I appreciated her help, we saved a lot of time working hard together, and she was proud of a job well done. Winner winner, chicken dinner! When we'd finished up in my classroom, she tagged along to keep me company in the lobby. Another big project needed some time and attention: turning the wall into a welcome sign for meet the teacher night. 

We got to school early that day and had been there all morning and afternoon working in my classroom. It was HOT in the school.  I-need-water, unladylike hot (ok, maybe that deserves an Oscar for drama, but it was a sweaty day, ok?). I was climbing up and down the ladder with a stapler and large awkward pieces of paper torn from large rolls. It felt like it was taking forever. About half way through the project Clare and I were joined by another young lady, the daughter of a coworker waaaay down the hall. She was checking out what we were up to. The crinkling paper made a lot of noise and she was looking into it! She'd be a great detective. She sat quietly for awhile on one of the green cushions near my ladder and then asked if I was having fun working on the wall. It was a great question, and extremely thoughtful. Was I having fun at the moment? I thought about it for a second. Not really. I'd been working on the wall for a loooooong time (Clare would agree), I was warm and thirsty and I knew I still had a long way to go. Some aspects were fun. It's encouraging to step back to see the big picture, to check your progress and critique what needs a bit of tweaking. The challenge of it is thrilling. I answered her honestly, "sometimes, but no, not at the moment". Can you guess the next question? Yep! "Then why are you doing it?" Another good one! This kid was on a roll! Move over Nancy Drew!

A lot of hours go into the inspiring things you see in our school. Time away from family invested in other families in our community. The fun bulletin boards, the hall displays of student work, the organized and themed classrooms, the special displays in our lobby for events. It all takes TIME. Days and weeks and hours of extra time. So why do it? I told her that meet the teacher night is a big deal. A VERY big deal. For some folks it'll be a welcome back to a school, teachers and friends they already know. That's pretty exciting! But for some it'll be a brand new place filled with brand new faces, and that can be scary. I want people visiting my school to be inspired when they walk in, to feel welcome, to know that exciting and unique things happen there, to feel special because they're a part of that, and know that the teachers there are committed to the doing what's best for kids. Always. That's why we do it. I think the night was a success! I've never had so many smiling faces visit the art room before! So many friendly hellos, glad your backs, hugs, high fives, it was great! It was almost like we were having a party in my room and I'm already looking forward to next time. Be watching for info about Fall Into The Arts this November! It truly IS an art party! Y'all come back now, ya hear?! 

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