What do we teach?


As this new school year is getting started, Mrs. Shemansky and I are finding ourselves so busy every day with tasks that range from the mundane (attendance) to the idealistic (teaching our kids to express their ideas and make connections with people and projects from around the world!!).  I think I can speak for us both when I say that there is not a minute in our day that we are idle.  So when a student asked me the other day, ‘Do you only teach art?’ I saw this big opportunity to tell her everything I do that is art but is so much more than art.  Unfortunately, after a long pause, I said, ‘yes’.  I wasn’t prepared to put everything I do into words- let alone a few really well crafted words that a polite response would entail (I’m sure she didn’t want a dissertation on everything I think I do all day).  But I knew right then that I had to do some serious thinking about this so that next time I’m asked what I teach I have a better answer.

It’s not all about art.

First and foremost we are here to provide students with a space to learn and talk about their art.  We give them a vocabulary to use that allows them to see art in a more knowledgeable way.  For example, in our Continue reading

Dot Day at JTL



Today we celebrate!

…with the world!  International Dot Day is a world-wide movement that inspires kids to make their mark on the lives of others in a positive way.  It is inspired by a story about a little girl who thinks she can’t draw.  Her teacher tells her to simply make a mark- which she does by making a single, angry, dot on the paper.  The teacher asks her to sign it.  The next day in class, she sees her dot in a frame over the teacher’s desk and thinks to herself, ‘gee, I think I can make a better dot than that’.  So begins her odyssey of dot making, until she has a whole wall of really neat dots to hang in her school’s art exhibit.  The book ends with her telling another little boy who thinks HE can’t draw to just start with a mark, and sign it.

Making a Difference…

Our kids got a big introduction to Dot Day, and were encouraged to think of how they, too, can make their mark.  On Dot Day everyone gets to decorate a paper plate (their ‘Dot’) with all the crafting materials we could find.  They are coming out awesome.  When they finish, they are writing down one way they think they can make their mark.  It’s getting kids talking…..

Cleaning up…

As teachers we do everything we can to give kids a fun experience while learning and growing as people.  This particular endeavor has moved the boundary of how far Mercy and I will go to do that.  Wow, what a huge amount of feathers, paper, pipe cleaners, glue, and ribbon!  We’re just glad we kept the glitter in the closet!!

Equal pARTners


Once upon a time

…there were two art teachers who worked side by side.  Every day kids showed up at their doors, picked the one that led to their class, and sat down to hear what they would be creating.  Depending on which door they picked, they might do something with clay or something with pencils.  Kids who went in the door on the left never did the same thing as those on the right.  They never gathered together as a large group to do fun things.  They couldn’t share experiences with their neighbors because they didn’t see the connections.

Both teachers loved what they did and were very good at it.  They had really cool ideas.  They tried new things.  THEY talked between rooms, and saw what the other was doing.  And it didn’t take long for them to realize that they really wanted to try out the things they saw next door.  As they started asking questions, they realized that the other one felt the same way.  Before long, they had a whole new plan for how they were going to teach art.  Instead of living in two completely separate worlds, they were going to join forces and become a Super Team.  They were going to take the best parts of both of their worlds and put them together to make a better world. Continue reading