Art teacher Alisa Ripley keeps her young artists in line. She shows the TJR fourth graders how to hang portraits, landscapes and complete art direction for a history play. It's all part of their first public art show. The youngsters are very excited. Ripley said, " When they come to my room they are full of excitement. I don't have behavior problems. The kids are eager to work. They've all worked very hard on this."
Adults are working hard too. They want art back in the elementary classroom and they're showing how it can be accomplished. The district found the space and supplies for the kids and SFA grant writer Rachel Galan found state funding to pay Ripley's salary. " There was an element in that where I could build this in. I saw the need in the school and the grant is really driven by the needs of our east Texas teachers," explained Galan. The funds were provided through the Texas Tides, a program funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
This art class will be used as an example. Administrators will learn about creative forms of funding to pay for expensive supplies. All the crayons, paint, pallets and canvas can cost up to $4,000 for one grade. Ripley says shaping student creativity is worth every penny. " If we really want to provide our children with a most well rounded education that we can give them than we need to find a way to reinstitute these programs into our public schools. And maybe the way to do it is through a cooperative situation."
With any luck there will be funding to bring Ripley back to TJR next year. These soon to be fifth graders regret others won't benefit from Ripley's instruction. " It is very sad. I feel sorry for them because it's a very fun activity," said B'riah Garey.
The art is fun, but more important, it can spark creative thinking in so many other areas. Ripley contends that, " We have lost track over the past few years of how our extra curricular activities and how our elective courses in our school really make a difference in the overall education."