Then on to middle school. A fresh start? The two art/home economic teachers were not very encouraging either. I remember making a design for a latch hook piece. It was pretty basic and geometric. One of the teachers told me it was "Trite and Redundant". No advice, no suggestions. I don't think I really knew what that meant (I was 12 or 13) but I knew it was bad. I'm pretty sure I threw the project away when it was done.
So I continued on. Never thinking art would be apart of my life and not knowing what I would want to do. When I got to high school I didn't take classes in art until I was a junior. I was able to take photography classes at the Des Moines Central Campus. It was a school full of programs for students who longed for something different (computer programming, art, languages....). I took photography for 2 hours a day for 2 years. And that's when I met a teacher that changed my life. The very unassuming man was Mr. Greenwood. I doubt he has ever known the affect he had on my life (although I have written and talked about him often). He didn't necessarily love my images but he gave me encouragement and direction that I really needed. I learned how to develop film and make prints. He taught us about composition and encouraged us to show our work. Art is something you can learn. It's always been strange when people tell me that I'm a talented photographer. I don't think it is talent. It's been hard work. I still work at it all the time.
After high school I went to a technical school for photography. I quickly discovered that I wanted something different. As much as I loved photography I wanted to learn about other art forms. So I went back to Des Moines and took several classes at Des Moines Area Community College then I applied to the University of Iowa and amazingly enough I was accepted. I had many wonderful teachers and learned how to work with different materials and studied Art Education. It was such a great experience and helped me to develop into a teacher who cared and encouraged rather than embarrassed or belittled students.
You might have had a similar experience but maybe it was music or writing. Good teachers make a BIG difference. Continuing to make art is important. Although I haven't taught in awhile I know some days it's more about grades, lesson plans and classroom management. It's important to remember why you started teaching in the first place.