As our judges read each poem and look at each piece of art, it is amazing what these students create. Many of the teachers become unmet friends. Where as many class assignments are generic in nature, many pieces of art and poetry have a clear thumbprint from that teacher’s style.
Yesterday, I was judging art and without seeing the school or the teacher’s name, I could identify both by the art that was submitted. It was a school in Texas, whose students each do a very original painting; however, the style is so refreshing and unique that it is very identifiable. The goal of our publication is not to hit percentages, but to publish good art. For this teacher, all 55 of her students, covering grades 1-8, were accepted to be published. Each piece was several grade levels above where they would normally be.
For poetry, we have many schools that I can identify the teacher and the school by the students’ work. One such school, in California, does not follow the normal conventions of formula poems where the students follow a pattern, but they each create original thought and style. This school has had many Top Ten Winners over the years. Another school in Northern Idaho is based on the classics and their entries are identified by the use of the old style pen that takes an ink cartridge.
Each thumbprint that a teacher creates through their students’ work makes us feel like we are meeting and judging the work of old friends. Would we know them on the street? No. But the quality of their students’ work makes them very well-known in our office.
Each year I have students who sit on the back row who I thought were just another student in the class. I am a bit surprised when these students come forth asking for a letter of recommendation for graduate school. Of all their teachers, I stood out. I was not aware of my influence, but it was there. For every teacher, your thumbprint on your students may not be obvious, but we all influence in ways that are not always visible. Keep up the good work.
For more information about our national art contests, go to www.CelebratingArt.com.