Gussner Elementary: A Residency Wrap-Up

This was one of my favorite ‘Matisse Inspired’ pieces, done by a third grader, Dillon.

Well friends, seven weeks have come and gone, and Friday was my last day as Artist in Residence at Gussner Elementary.  I had a GREAT time learning with the kids and encouraging them to think about the basic elements of art.  We made projects using cut paper, watercolor paints, crayons, and oil pastels.  The time flew by, and most of the students agreed that it felt more like three weeks that I’d been there rather than seven.  A common question was ‘why can’t you just stay until the end of the year…..’

I would LOVE to stay longer, but tomorrow I am starting a second residency just a few blocks away from my apartment.  Look out St. John’s…. The Artist is headed to your school!

Before I begin my revised lessons with a new group of kids, I wanted to write down some *favorite* memories from my time at Gussner.  There are children there that I hope I never forget, and experiences that I think I’ll always remember.  I didn’t begin photographing in class until Week 4 (and I don’t want to show student’s faces online), but I will share some photos of my favorite projects, along with some of the moments that made me smile…

There is a fourth grader, Ryan, who loves to draw cars… and he’s great at it!  Every week in class he’d somehow find a way to make a car in his project, so by week four I started encouraging him to do it.  This piece is from Lesson 4 and 5; we drew a sheep using shapes and line, and then decorated our sheep with crayon, oil pastel, and watercolors.

A few of my second graders were also quite talented.  In fact, one second grade classroom had not one, not two, but THREE honorable mention awards for their duck stamp drawings in the time that I was there.

On my first day of class, little Noah excitedly proclaimed that I reminded him of someone…. Jeff Dunham.  He thought it was my haircut.  Not really knowing who Jeff Dunham is (I haven’t subscribed to TV for several years), I asked if he was a friend of Noah’s.  Noah thought it was quite ridiculous that I hadn’t heard of such an esteemed comedian and scoffed at my ignorance, but he took great delight in spending the next few minutes telling me anything I’d ever need to know about Jeff Dunham, and Noah too, it seemed.

Noah was a perfectionist and every week I’d have to hurry him along because he’d spend all of class time getting one thing to look just right.  He was a great little artist; very precise, and he had a vocabulary larger than mine.  He said that he made a lot of art projects with his mother at home, and when I congratulated him on his duck stamp Honorable Mention, he was excited to show me his ‘prototype.’

Some quotable quotes from Noah (along with ‘you look like Jeff Dunham’) was the time he told a classmate that he “didn’t think an eight year old needed to attempt something so complicated”, and during that same class he said “this is an exercise in patience, for sure!”  He also liked to corner me and quietly tattle on one classmate in particular.  Poor Noah never quite figured out that I wasn’t technically a teacher and wasn’t going to do anything…..



My favorite first grader, Hudson, is a sweet little boy who loves to help.  He collected glue sticks for me at the end of each class, and on my very last day, in my very last class, Hudson made sure to offer one of his birthday cupcakes before I left school that day.  What a great way to wrap up my very first residency.  I can’t wait to start at St. John’s next week and see what is in store for me there…..


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