Like the Teacher / Third Grade Crayon Engravings

030Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.  ~ Luke 6:40

Though I experienced dozens of Oregon State University instructors, thirty years has erased the names of all but two exceptional teachers. Wearing a blue gingham dress and swinging a basket housing “Toto,” Marthanne Norgren placed construction paper yellow bricks on the “road” to her Project: Fantasy Books doorway. Each class period was a surprise, and her passion for picture books intensified mine.

However, as my third grade students complete crayon engravings garnished with oil pastels, it is James Kirk I remember. “Kirk” taught the project-based Art for Elementary Education, and I am grateful.


Kirk changed my definition of “good” art and gave me “go to” projects I have used every year and in every elementary grade level I have taught. This year, his influence has been invaluable. I transitioned from first grade teacher to first-time art specialist for grades 1-6, and am developing a standards-driven program for about 240 students “from scratch.” Many of the projects I’ve incorporated came from or were influenced by Kirk: Pollock straw blowing, Modigliani oil pastel portraits, cubism-connected continuous line faces, crayon engravings, never-cross-a-line doodles, Mondrian primary color paintings, crayon resist watercolors, glue-line foil engravings and more. Yes, I research and incorporate new projects and pop artists, but Kirk’s art-history-connected and objective-driven lessons are still foundational, timeless, beautiful.


What Kirk gave me is what I pray I instill in my students: truths that are useful and worth sharing…thirty years later.


I love my new role as an art teacher, but it is only possible because an educator taught well.

Thank you, James Kirk.



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