Kaia West’s art, “Pelican“, was selected as a Top Ten Winner in our Fall 2012 national art contest. This means that Kaia’s art was one of the ten best pieces in the 4-6 grade division submitted throughout the United States and Canada.
Kaia attends Manzanita Elementary School Oregon and is a fourth grader there. She studies art with Mrs. Judy Christopher. Each week she studies art in a small studio setting with three other students. She has studied there now for more than two years.
As evidenced in her artwork, Kaia loves color. She also enjoys playing basketball, volleyball, and spending time with friends and family.
To learn more about our national art contests, visit www.CelebratingArt.com.
Our student artist spotlight for this week is on 16 year old Erica G. Erica was a Top Ten Winner with her art piece “Noble Dane” in our Fall 2011 Art Contest.
Erica is a junior at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School. Amazingly, she is a self-taught artist. Her favorite things to draw are animals. Erica tells us, “I’ve always had a passion for drawing…In the future I know I want to have a job that involves artistic creativity in which I can use my talent for digital drawing.”
One can see by her winning entry how incredibly talented Erica already is. Good luck with your future endeavors, Erica. We know you are going to be successful and hope to see more of your work in the future.
For Christmas, I gave my daughter the book “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” (http://www.therebelution.com/book). She shared with me the book’s philosophy that often society does not expect much from our youth and that in response, youth often meet that lowered expectation. I thought of the thousands of teachers that we work with each year with our writing and art contests.
Many times I will receive a packet of poems or view images of art that have been submitted by a teacher and my first thoughts are “Get a new teacher.” When an entire class of high school students enter poems equivalent to “a cat sat on a bat” or enter art with crayons on lined paper, I know that it is not the students who are failing, but the teacher. Raise the bar and students rise to meet the expectation. When we expect little, we receive little.
My students go to a charter school that has a curriculum that is always one grade above the norm. In 1st grade they are taught 2nd grade math and writing and this continues like this to 8th grade. At first my reaction was that will just frustrate the student. But I found that when expectations rise, the quality of the student rises to the expectation. I have taught at the university level for 30 years. During that time I have taught the same classes at the high school and middle school level. When I say the same classes, I really mean the exact same content. For both my university students and my 7th/ 8th grade students, I teach them difficult concepts, and in both classes they master them.
My challenge to parents and teachers is to higher your expectations. The youth of today are capable of great achievements. The book “Do Hard Things” is written by two teenagers. These are kids who want the challenge. In working with your students or even your own children, raise the bar, create a challenge and you may find it more rewarding for them and you when they “Do Hard Things”.