Success Story: Art at Sand Hill

Success Story: Art at Sand Hill

Sand Hill School Art Teacher, Mary Luckhurst, breaks through barriers and helps student find confidence through art.

Mary LuckhurstAs an art teacher at Sand Hill School I have the great privilege of watching students engage in all sorts of creative endeavors. Their faces light up as they explore the range of possibilities. To watch a mess of paper become a beautiful collage—it’s a one-of-a-kind experience I feel so fortunate to have. I observe as they learn new ways to communicate their ideas with one another or as they troubleshoot when their ideas don’t go quite according to plan.

Most students love coming to the art room. They walk into the room happily and ask with anticipation, “What are we going to make today?” Although this is the case for most students, there are always a few exceptions. One of my students has shown little interest in art. Generally this is not something I pay
much attention to because children all work in different ways. I trusted that it would only be a matter of time before he was digging into the materials alongside his peers. I continued to inquire about this disinterest, and I kept hearing the same response: “I can’t do it.”

As a teacher this certainly presents a challenge. If a student won’t at the very minimum attempt to try there is no way to help that child to learn or make progress. I knew it would take many attempts on my part before I broke through the barrier. Little changed in this student’s behavior during class for quite some time, and then something happened—he enrolled in my afterschool art class. This was a little surprising, but gave me hope that his ‘issue’ was not lack of interest, but rather a lack of confidence.

For kids with learning differences, confidence can be a huge barrier.

I decided to pair him with a younger student. Each time I gave a new instruction in class I asked him to assist the younger boy. He showed great enthusiasm for this work and took great care in showing the younger student how to hold his scissors, and how to follow each new direction. I was impressed with what a great role model he made and commended him for his teaching ability. He blushed a little and smiled, then continued to teach the younger student.

Over the next few weeks I continued to foster this relationship and his newly found confidence. Little by little I began to notice that he was sharing his ideas more willingly with classmates and even began walking around the room asking if other students needed assistance. A few weeks went by and something
happened that warmed my heart—he made a bold move and was the first to volunteer to share his project with the class. He also groaned when his parents came to pick him up because he did not want to leave—he wanted to stay and do more art! It was tremendously rewarding to watch and made me feel honored to be an art teacher at Sand Hill School.