I am down in New Orleans for a few days attending my first NAEA conference! Checking out sessions related to at risk students, art therapy, technology use in the arts classroom, portfolio creation, motivation, the impact of the arts, arts advocacy, etc… My kinda stuff!
I love the title of this session, “How a #2 Pencil Changed My Life” (and we aren’t talking about state and federal pressure to give students tests)!
Presenter/Designer D’Wayne Edwards has been creating shoe designs since age 17 for many of the major brands and ball players/rappers. He is 45 now. The digital age allowed random kids in school drawing sneakers to upload their designs. He created an online design contest “Future Soles” sponsored by Nike. In year 2, they actually began creating the winning pair of shoes, which were worn during play and endorsed by a famous player. D’Wayne was the second African American sneaker designer, when he began. In 2011, he opened the contest up to include women designers. He owns over 40 show patents worldwide. He has mentored many upcoming designers working with Jordan @Nike.
D’Wayne says he started off as a dreamer, misunderstood. People told him he couldn’t do it. He knew his true passion was always drawing with a #2 pencil, and discovered after working for LA Gear, Sketchers and Nike, that he really loved teaching and mentoring.
So, after all that success, he retired so he could focus on other people’s big goals related to making great things happen for others. He created his own school, PENSOLE (PENcil + SOLE), in Portland, Oregon created to be the school he wanted to go to, but never did. He competitively recruited 30 students to come to Oregon the first year, to learn the skills that exist in product marketing that do not exist in regular schools. This school is free for all attendees and very intensive. For more info, go to http://www.pensole.com/
My mom took this photo of my grandma, re-discovering painting with friends and her activity director at an “Art with Heart” session hosted at her assisted living facility a few weeks ago. I love this! Gram hasn’t painted since the 1980s, when she took a few acrylic painting classes for fun. I have her two framed acrylic paint farm scenes on display in my classroom studio at school. I know some of my artistic gifts come from her.
Gram has dementia and sometimes (especially when she’s tired), she gets frustrated about not remembering, trying to know what comes next. Mostly she is happy. Walking the halls, making puzzles alone or with friends, visiting with family, and now crafting and painting!
Dementia and Alzheimer’s run up both sides of my family tree. For me, this photo of her enjoying the creative process, even if she won’t remember it, is proof that this skill set and the instinct to make stuff will be with me til the end of my days.
Don’t forget to keep putting a pencil or brush in my hands!
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman
We launched our new pilot program down in Guatemala last month, called Libros Para Ninos. Donations from members in WNC Presbytery have contributed to the purchase of a small lending library of Spanish children’s books in one public elementary school in our sister Presbytery in Suchi.
We are moving forward with raising funds to make the same pilot program lending library happen in our sister Presbytery in Sur.
A few of my simple illustrations have been used to produce cards, which you can give to someone if you choose to give a donation to this project their name as a gift.
If anyone is interested in helping with the literacy work we do in these two regions of rural Guatemala, please let me know in the comments and I can get you more information about our work there and how you can help!
This year’s journey is winding down. I think in terms of school years with the new year starting in August, not January. Reflecting back, this academic year has been different in so many ways. I’m back in the classroom after 14 years on the sidelines, happily returning to the daily work of facilitating the creative process with young people. Learning about and using technology/social media that didn’t exist back in 1999. Discovering new challenges working in a secondary alternative school vs. a “regular” school setting. One of the biggest learnings for me this year has occurred while moving through the sense of grief that comes with students transitioning. Doing school with only the most at risk kids means developing relationships with students aged 10-21 who are much more likely to come and go quickly, because of a variety of factors; Coping with constant changes in our student population due to behavior issues, dropping out, moving, prison, changes in mental health status, foster care placements, chronic absenteeism, accidental death, gangs or apathy just to name a few. Drop out prevention and transitioning are not new to me at all, it’s been a big part of all of my previous job descriptions. However, the grief left behind when we “lose” a kid in the process feels so much more intense here.