Eva Marie Kirby from Tennessee dreamt of being an art educator since graduating college, but marriage and raising a family put her dreams on hold.
Fast forward twenty years, Eva Marie steps into the art room and finds herself in charge of 800 children ages four to seven.
Her story is absolutely delightful, and will inspire anyone who has waited before putting their career goals into action.
Eva Marie is our Sparkler Spotlight of the Month for April. She’s one of the first to comment and ask questions in our private Facebook group, and is always there to support others. At the end of the episode, Eva Marie asks me two questions about suitable art activities for children with learning differences and how to establish a clean-up routine.
1. What was your path to becoming an art teacher?
I studied art and education in college, with a desire to pursue graduate studies in Art History and become the children’s program art educator in an art museum. The first day of graduate school, I was offered a kindergarten teaching position and my parents advised me to take it. Instead of continuing my art education, I spent five years in a classroom with children. After I married and had a baby, I retired from teaching and raised our three children. Twenty-two years later, I got the opportunity to take two different art teacher interns in one year. When one of these art teachers retired in the same year, a permanent position opened up for me. I finally landed my art educator job! Not in a museum, but in a wonderful primary school.
2. What do you feel is your best attribute or strength as an art teacher?
My best strength as an art teacher is my passion for art and my desire to share knowledge with my students. I get very enthusiastic when I share an artist’s work or a new technique. The students enjoy it with me!
3. What do you do well in the art room and how does this benefit your students?
I relate every aspect of a project to the appropriate elements and techniques of art. This benefits my students by giving a common framework of terminology to discuss artworks with. I also try to be encouraging and fun.
4. Why do you feel teaching art to kids is important?
Teaching art, or at the very least, offering free choice art opportunities for children, is so extremely important. Kids are under pressure to perform well in their academics, where there is a right or wrong answer. The art classroom is that incredible space where the creative mind can create and explore. The end product is always “right” for the student.
I love to see children flourish in the art room, but seeing a struggling student feel free and excel when handed a paintbrush or scissors brings me a special joy! There are so many art related jobs in the world — kids need to explore their creative side.
5. Why did you join the Sparklers Club and how did being in the group help you?
I joined the Sparklers Club after spending my first month creating lesson ideas and writing them down on color coded note cards for each grade level. I was having to dream up the supply list, make a sample, and guess how long it would take. I saw an ad on Facebook and joined the Club for a month to try it out. After seeing the EPIC curriculum, I was hooked and upgraded to the yearly membership. Having the lesson plans to choose from is a huge time saver!
Besides the well planned lessons, the Facebook group is great. I feel like I am not alone in the art room, but part of a group of art teacher friends all working together.
My husband says it’s the best money I could have ever spent on my first year back in the classroom, and I have to agree!
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- Eva Marie’s earliest dreams for her career in art and the path she took to return to the classroom
- What she does to reward behavior and effort in her classroom and how she gets the children excited about art
- How she’s implementing what she’s learning in The Sparklers Club into her teaching
- Our thoughts on making lessons accessible for students of all abilities and what I recommend she can do to make after class clean-up easier
LISTEN TO THE SHOW
LINKS & RESOURCES
Join the Sparklers Club waitlist and get the free GREEK VASE DESIGNS lesson that’s in our Ancient Greek & Roman Art Bundle
Books mentioned in this podcast: The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt & The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Cassie Stephen’s Blog: Art Teacherin’ in Tennessee
Arte Made Easy 56: Teaching Art to Children with Special Needs
Join the Sparklers Club waitlist HERE