Weakley Students Learn Art and Mask Appreciation

Art in the Days of COVID Continues to Encourage Expression
Posted on 09/16/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Art in the Days of COVID Continues to Encourage ExpressionBefore each class, art teacher Nan Satterfield wipes down tables and then, with a mixture of one part disinfectant and two parts water in her trusty steamer, spritzes the color-coded cups and tools students will use in their creative expressions. As kindergarten through sixth grade boys and girls enter the spacious classroom near the entrance to Greenfield School’s elementary wing, she encourages each to find their numbered and socially distanced seat.

Such are the practices in a visual arts classroom during the days of COVID-19. When the Centers for Disease Control first released guidelines for schools, art teachers around the country wondered exactly how hands-on art experiences would be possible. After learning that disinfecting after each individual used a brush or surface was no longer required, the possibilities seemed within reach. But teachers like Satterfield aren’t taking any chances.

“My students know which color cup is theirs,” she pointed out in a tour of her classroom. “They bring their own markers and crayons. We are making it work.”

She even demonstrated the Scunci Steamer for an inquiring second grader who wasn’t quite ready to focus on the topic at hand.

“Now let’s focus on our masks,” she then instructed him and his fellow classmates.

The masks to which she was referring were not the ones still securely positioned on the young artists’ faces. Instead, she was drawing their attention to illustrations they began in their first of their weekly 45-minute art lessons.

Based on an idea from fellow art teacher Cassie Stephens in Nashville who blogs and posts on Instagram, Satterfield at Greenfield, Amber Gentry at Dresden Elementary, and Melissa Terrell at Martin Primary have been asking their elementary students some important questions – all while also teaching how to draw facial proportions.

“I began by asking, ‘How do you feel about wearing a mask? Do you think a mask is necessary?’” Satterfield explained. “Some said ‘I like it.’ Some said, ‘I can’t breathe with it on.’ ‘I feel safe with it on’ and ‘I hate it’ were other answers.”

As to whether masks are necessary, Satterfield quickly recalled the insightful responses from kindergarteners. “To keep us healthy,” they said. “To keep others from getting sick.”

Terrell, at Martin Primary, uses a loaded cart to move from each of her classes currently learning in the “bubbles” some schools have employed to keep students safe. She agrees that for the most part the students are accepting of the precautions due to the pandemic.

“Most of the kids aren’t really bothered by the masks. They’re really taking all the new changes in stride. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good they’ve been!” she explained.

Once the topic of masks was introduced, Satterfield then showed a variety of masks and students discussed which were appropriate and which were not. They agreed “appropriate” ones were those that covered the nose and mouth and did not include inappropriate words or images.
As students learned about the appropriate positions of eyes and hairlines to place on the top half of their drawing, they were then encouraged to consider words that describe themselves.

“I don’t want to know about your brother or your sister; I want to know about you,” Satterfield instructed.

Those adjectives would then be placed in the fold of the “mask.” Upon completion, the child’s entire face would be visible and then, when opened wide, the paper would reveal how they saw themselves using words.

Gentry praised the outcomes. “This project reminded students that a mask covering their wonderful smiles does not change who they are or what amazing personality traits they have to offer each day to the world,” she concluded.

Satterfield is part-time at Greenfield having retired already from Milan Schools. Terrell and Gentry work half the year at one school and then move to a second assignment for the second half. Terrell is at Martin Primary now and Gleason and Sharon after Christmas break. Gentry works with Dresden now and Martin Elementary after Christmas.

To see photos of the students' work, click here