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Elementary artists create with joy


Fairacres and Mesilla Park Elementary Schools' art teacher Mary Long has given students at both schools some creative art lessons to work on at home via the online teaching program, Canvas.

Her students’ creativity at each school includes, at Mesilla Park Elementary School, third grader Eve Holguin, who drew and colored a baby Yoda (“Star Wars”), and sisters Dot and Kat Mason – Dot is a second grader and Kat is a kindergarten student – who worked separately and together on clay projects. 

At Fairacres Elementary School, second grader Rian Sanchez always submits his completed artwork soon after Long posts the assignment, she said. His “Masked Selfie Surprise” is based on a lesson inspired by online art teacher Cassie Stephens.

“While working away from our students and teaching online has proven to have its challenges, one group of LCPS teachers has found a great deal of rewards in the way they produce their lessons,” Long said.

The Elementary Arts Teacher Group comprises 15 teachers who “were forced to come together, to then break up into smaller teams in a ‘divide and conquer’ work model to produce grade-level art lessons to be shared among their entire teaching group.” said Long, who is one of the teachers in the group.

“To teach online requires hours and hours of training, which remains ongoing,” Long said. “To produce one lesson requires research, production and editing efforts, then more training and Zoom troubleshoot meetings to then post the lesson online. The Elementary Arts Teacher Group already had ‘team’ spirit built in from the inception of this program more than 20 years ago.”

Long said art teachers “automatically mentor one another,” including first-year teachers, because teaching art “is unlike any other teaching arrangement in our district.”

Since the onset of COVID-19, she said, art teachers are “working in a brand-new way, on a new level, requiring them to achieve the outcomes necessary to serve their students’ needs.”

But, they have had to do that without knowing what art supplies each student had access to in his or her home, she said.

Thanks to their teamwork, what art teachers have discovered and produced during the pandemic shutdown of schools “will be relevant and useful when they return to the classroom, especially if the district continues to use the same technology,” Long said.

“We are all eager to be back with our students,” she said. “We really look forward to this shelter-in-place to be finally lifted and for life to return to ‘normal.’”