Undervalued, underfunded, overlooked, busy, stressful, demanding… the profession of an art educator is these things certainly, but it is also much more. It’s also seeing the look of joy on a child’s face as they proudly hold up their finished masterpiece for the world to see, knowing that they are beginning to value the work of their hands. It’s encouraging a child to critially examine and question and explore the world around them and to think of solutions “outside the box”. It’s providing a refuge for the students. In the midst of schools teaching to the test, the artroom provides a place where the answers to the questions are never “right” or “wrong,” and mistakes are okay to make, where it doesn’t matter if you are short or tall or skinny or fat or rich or poor or smart or dumb– as long as you have a story to tell. It’s giving a child the tools they need to tell the story that is uniquely theirs, and at the same time teaching them to understand and appreciate the stories of others. Art is the universal language- one that allows us to unleash thoughts and feelings and emotions that no words can express. One that is understood across the boundaries of time, place, culture, age, and social status. It is healing, theraputic, relaxing, stimulating… Take the time to examine a person’s art and you will find a window to their soul. Take the time to examine a culture’s art and you hold the keys to understanding their histories, values, and norms. And of course, it is FUN! This is why I teach, for the love of it. Today was our first Art Teacher inservice of the year. All of the art teachers in the district met together and listened to a fabulous presentation by local artist/teahcer/therapist Jim Young. Since many of us are the only art teachers in our buildings, it is always great to get together and share ideas, stories, and most of all encouragment. I really needed this before the start of year on Monday! Can’t wait to get back into it now! On a more Adoption/Viet Nam related note (since this is the subject of my blog after all), The Catalyst Foundation does a project called “My Vietnam,” a project that brings art to children, many of them orphans, all over Vietnam. 25 of these young artists are chosen to recieve a scholarship- a tremendous gift in a country that does not provide free public education. Their website sells notecards with the children’s beautiful artwork to help fund their other projects. I am thinking about matting and framing some of the notecards for Miles’ room=) Oh yes, another bit of good news, a friend and colleague of mine who is also adopting from Viet Nam has found out that she will be travelling within the next couple of weeks to pick up her new daughter. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she makes this journey!