By Emily Kremer '07
“Word has it that you’re all pretty artistic!” My opening comment met a split second of silence before a ripple of giggles and smirks broke out, followed by a burst of laughter. Apparently my eighth graders were not as confident in their abilities. “Who said that?” “I’m horrible at art” and other such comments were made as I settled down the excited chatter. “I don’t expect masterpieces from you,” I continued, “but I do want to see you all improve your art-making skills.”
Regardless of their natural talent levels, students can use art to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. My role is to come alongside as a coach, to encourage, critique, ask questions and see the challenges through their eyes.
Most of my students are far away from the people and places they call home. I see the cultures they love and the struggle of separation and transition displayed in their art. For many, these art classes become a haven, a time to express and release, amidst a day full of absorption and retention.
BURST OF LIGHT
Unlike my less confident eighth graders, my eager, older graphic arts students have said the graphic design class “is like a burst of light” in the middle of their days. This particular class consists primarily of boys seeking to develop their artistic ability in a world that speaks their computer and gaming language. While pottery and painting may not suit their technical bent, I feel blessed to come alongside and encourage these young men.
WISDOM AND COOKIE DOUGH
A couple of my male students live in the dorm where I volunteer on Thursday nights. One evening, they found me in the kitchen mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were brainstorming ideas together for our poster project. The literary quote one student was trying to illustrate was confusing, so he looked it up in context and we discussed good and evil and the path of wisdom while I stirred my cookie dough.
As the oldest of six children, I play the “big sister” role naturally and I enjoy being able to mentor students outside of the classroom. I love hugs in the hallway from girls in my freshmen small group, and mini reunions when my first-semester kids drop by at lunch to say hello and check in on the current design project.
While taking my design experience into the unknown realm of teaching has been difficult, the challenge is more adventure than burden. Never once have I doubted God’s guiding me to Black Forest Academy and I eagerly await great things as I prepare for a second year.
In 2010 Emily Kremer ’07 left a graphic design position in the Twin Cities to teach art and graphic design at Black Forest Academy, an international Christian school in Kandern, Germany for students of international Christian workers and business families. Visit her blog at http://emruth.wordpress.com.