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End of Year Message 2020

Art is a language unto itself. Along with speaking and writing, you have inside you your own artistic voice. It is a powerful voice to harness when you really want to say something. Art can be your best friend when you’re trying to work through what’s going on in the world around you. – Alice Gentili

Today is the last day of school. A year like none other, it will require time to process and reflect upon. And that’s another post for another day. This my end-of-year message to my art students and their families:

Here is the transcript of what I said (while holding a chicken):

Hi Class –

Tomorrow marks three months since we started remote learning while quarantined. We were plugging along in mid-March, but in mid-April, we hit our stride little . At that time I introduced you to this chicken, who was then, only about a week old. This is Snowy, and next Im going to show you a picture of what she looked like back in April.

Here she is when we first got her in April, when she was about a week old.

Wasn’t she cute? She’s grown a lot since then. But so have you.

You’ve grown a lot, too. Think about the past three months and all you’ve accomplished. For some of you, remote learning has been a gift, and for others it has been a challenge, for a whole bunch of different reasons.  I’ve watched as many of you have kept up with assignments all along as others took a little longer, but eventually you caught on. I’ve watched you grow as artists, taking the steps necessary to try new things and then to stick with it until you’ve created something remarkable. And honestly, that’s what art is all about both in school and remote learning AND in life.

As for me, I’ve never spent so much time tracking student progress in our grading system as I have for the past three months. In fact, teaching art for me has never been about grades. Art making, even as I was a child, was never about grades. When we are in physical school, and you’re in class, and you’re in the art room and you’re working on projects, I can help you as things come up that you’re struggling with. And I can give you a little pat on the back when things are going really well. I see you when you’re trying to work through the distractions of the school day and class. Or not. I enjoyed coaxing you in school and sometimes pushing you to take the next step.

I never saw you at the end of the day, though, when all the classes were over and the distractions of the school day were gone. You were simply you then. And during this time of remote learning, that’s all I’ve seen. You, at home, with your family who loves you. Them taking my place coaxing you and sometimes pushing you. I am grateful to your family for all of their help.

One last thing I want to share with you is that with the arts, grades will never motivate you to do your best work. Art is a language unto itself. Along with speaking and writing, you have inside you your own artistic voice. It is a powerful voice to harness when you really want to say something. Art can be your best friend when you’re trying to work through what’s going on in the world around you.

And in just the past three months, I’ve been watching you develop your artistic voice. You, at home with your family, and me, monitoring your progress on Google Classroom. The three of us have come though this together. And if we had to do it again, I think we’d rock it.

I hope you have a wonderful summer. I thank you for your participation throughout remote learning. And fifth graders, I’ll see you next year. Sixth graders, I’ll be right next door to Mr. Hansen’s room. Don’t be a stranger.

Bye bye. Cluck cluck (bye bye in chicken talk).

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