It was meant as a question, but it was actually his answer as well. “Yes,” I told him, “You can do anything.”
I have always been a huge supporter of the arts, especially in education and with our youth. As a child, I distinctly remember the excitement of school field trips to Stage One or Actor’s Theatre. I would pick out my outfit days in advance and receive multiple warnings not to make my “click clack” shoes click and clack more than necessary. I remember being in the cafeteria at school stretching my arm out as far as it would go, hoping to get picked to volunteer when a theatre troupe came to visit us. I begged my parents to frame and hang each piece of art work I brought home, regardless of the actually quality.
As an elementary school guidance counselor now, I sometimes forget how to divide and multiple fractions and I frequently confuse adverbs and adjectives, but the lessons I learned from the arts have stuck with me, many years later.
The school I work at is located in Bullitt County, actually right on the Bullitt-Jefferson County line. It’s a wonderful school, filled with energetic, lively, smart and talented children and staff. Towards the middle of the 2013-2014 school year, our enrollment dropped and we were told we would lose some of our special area teachers. Unfortunately this turned out to be our Arts and Humanities Special Area. As an educator, I realize we are sometimes faced with decisions that are hard and we have to abide by guidelines and policies. As an art lover, I was devastated. My heart broke for the students who would not get to feel clay run through their fingers, or hear the sound an instrument makes when they blow through it just right. I remembered the days when the ballet came to my school and gave us mini-lessons. For years, I told everyone I had studied with the Louisville Ballet and thought my five step dance proved it. It made me incredibly sad to know our students would not get to live in that magical world where they were dancers and artists, performers and musicians.
I became involved in the Next! Leadership Team for this exact reason. Louisville is an incredible city with so many opportunities to be exposed and experience the arts. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the arts in my city, but in the few short months that I have been a part of Next I realized I knew very little. I have learned how Shakespeare is being used to teach prisoners empathy and begin the rehabilitation process. I have discovered performing arts academies that work with at risk youth and art workshops for all ages. I have seen the multitude of ways our organizations reach out to the community beyond ticket sales and in school field trips. It has been truly spectacular. The Next! Leadership Team and Fund for the Arts have allowed me to bring out dancers, artists, musicians and performers to my school. The people I have met and connections I have made have allowed me to give my students their own moments to remember.
Thru the Next! Leadership Team I was also given an opportunity to participate in the Fund for the Arts campaign #ArtIs. I thought about what art is to me. I thought about all the moments I had as a child. I thought about the excitement I see on my students’ face when they hear opera for the first time or turn trash into an owl. I asked my students to come up with their own #ArtIs sign. I explained to them my role in Fund for the Arts and what the fund has provided for us here at school. There were lots of questions, but one boy summed it up perfectly.
“I can do anything?”
“Yes,” I told him. “Through the arts, you can do anything.”
Professional School Counselor
Maryville Elementary School
Photos from Marysville Elementary School
Created with flickr slideshow.