Preparation includes continuing one's own education, Longo said, and understanding that different children learn in different ways, sentiments Joy Gazi
has taken to heart.
..."It's important to love your field, but it's also important to know it, to continue learning," said Gazi, an elementary art teacher at Bentworth School District.
Like Richardson, Gazi
brings different disciplines into her
classes.Shepherding children from kindergarten through sixth grade, she
teaches using a historical timeline that ranges from prehistoric painting and clay pottery to the amorphous world of contemporary art.
During 31 years at Bentworth, she
recognized that many kids have no frame of reference when talking about Pablo Picasso or Leonardo Da Vinci.
Is Degas still alive?Is he
an American? (No, and no.)
historical approach, providing the cultural and scientific contexts of the old objects we've chosen to preserve.After a time, students entering history and math classes were able to say, "Oh, yeah, we learned about that in art class."And Gazi
has been with the district long enough to have built a foundation for her
"You can't be isolated.You have to involve your community.You have to involve your parents.You have to get out into your building and ask questions," said Gazi
, another onetime state finalist for Teacher of the Year. Gazi
must keep her
classes vital, as the arts often are first on the chopping block when budgets shrink.And she's
not afraid to let children work with "adult" media, such as ceramics and other heat-treated materials.Often, she
says, children will pay closer attention and have greater respect for their medium than adults, if given the proper instruction.
"I don't want art class to be handprint turkeys," she
rewards are affection and genuine excitement from her
students, as well as the opportunity to watch them progress through their elementary education and beyond.A child may take several years to learn how to button his
coat properly, but he
is never a lost cause, she
A student may not have the motor skills to do well throwing pots, but may be able to express in writing what she
can't in clay.Gazi
says it's a teacher's job to give students the chance to discover their own talents and gain confidence.
Positive feedback from parents and positive outcomes for their children keep Gazi
excited about her
said a mother who moved her
children from the well-heeled Peters Township School District to Bentworth was at first worried that the new school wouldn't provide as good an education.But she
was reassured when she
young daughter to the Louvre in Paris, and the girl was able to name the paintings and artists before the tour guide. Gazi
says one instills that kind of learning only in an atmosphere that respects children and their potential.
"You have to be careful how you treat children; they're so delicate.So, we learn together.We all grow together," said Gazi
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