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New Elementary Art Teacher has Students Recreating Murals of Master Painters

January 26, 2012

01/27/12 Haley Church loves teaching and loves art. The two have proven to be a perfect combination for the first year art teacher with the Plymouth Schools. Church teaches K-4 at both Menominee and Washington Elementary Schools.

Recently the fourth grade students at Menominee saw how using a variety of learned skills that Church has assigned over the last several weeks came together. Murals depicting the student’s recreations of Master’s paintings are displayed on bulletin boards.

Church said she worked together with Judy Harness, art teacher for Webster and Jefferson Elementary Schools, to decide on art projects that would fulfill the Indiana State Standards. Church said, “The art standards have different categories including art history.” Other state required standards to be met included: Identifying the relationship between a work of art and the geography and characteristics of the culture and identifying where, when, and by whom the work was made (focus: Indiana history). Students are also taught to identify and describe artistic styles, describe and analyze sensory, formal, technical, and expressive properties in their own work and works of artists through discussion and/or writing, and develop appropriate vocabulary.

The murals provided a creative way of teaching history. To accomplish the final project, students worked in groups. Church said, “When students were spending significant time drawing and painting such large projects, they couldn’t help but be more interested in who painted the same picture and how they successfully created the image.”

Each student was assigned an individual 12 x 12 inch square of the mural. Church said, “I knew who had what square and monitored the progress each week.”  She added, “Once the drawing was completed, students could then proceed to painting.” Grades were received for both the drawing and painting portions of the project.

Church said she decided on using a group project-based approach before starting the assignment. She said, “It seemed like a neat way for students to practice the painting and enlarging techniques, by making something larger and providing a unique experience they never had had the opportunity to use before.”

The murals were assigned according to the tables where the children sat each day, according to Church. She said, “The murals matched the “Table Labels” which are placed at each table for some art history exposure. This year each table is labeled to focus on one the seven “Elements of Art”.  

Church said she appreciates the support from Menominee Principal Michael Dunn and Washington Principal Michele Riise. She said, “They have given me full range and freedom to develop my own art program. Their support has been encouraging and excites me to try new projects with all grade levels.”

Dunn said, “Haley has done a nice job modeling our core values of high expectations and enjoyment.” He added, “Her students are fine examples of 21st Century skills of collaboration and creativity in a project-based setting.”

Church graduated from Angola High School and then went on to Indiana Wesleyan University majoring in Art Education. She was also on the school’s softball team. She said, “The art department IWU was an incredible atmosphere to pursue my education. “ “I was able to work with talented and caring professors.” she said. “They stretched my skills and I continue to pursue creating my own artwork.” In the future she plans to obtain a Master’s degree and pursue a career as an artist as well.

She explained that she feels lucky to have an opportunity to teach in the Plymouth Schools. She said, “I graduated from IWU on April 30, 2011. After graduation, I finished the softball season there and began applying for jobs.” “I was willing to go anywhere, but I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to work in PCSC.” she said,

She said, “I jump between Menominee and Washington, but each school is stating to feel like family.

Church also shared her appreciation for her family. She said, “Art had been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.” “According to my parents, at three-years-old I was content to sit at the kitchen table and draw all day long.” she said. “I owe a huge portion of my success in art to my parents. They were willing to let me explore and pursue a God given passion.”

“Art continues to be a part of my life and I hope my students can encounter the same joy and expression I love.”   

Carol Anders Correspondent


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