Lake Hamilton Primary gets colorful back-to-school mural

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PEARCY – Students at Lake Hamilton Elementary School will have some color to add to their excitement when they return to school later this month, as art teacher Samantha Stallman painted a new mural fun at the entrance of the building.

Stallman, who teaches nearly 600 children in kindergarten and first grade, in about 30 classes a week, said she and Lake Hamilton Elementary School principal Allyson Petty talked about the space more early in the year and how to make it more child friendly and fun for the kids.

“Especially since it’s the start of our school, when kindergarten comes for the very first time, just to make it a little more fun,” she said. “We decided that these two walls were perfect to do a mural, and we kind of talked about some things, and I looked over this summer and found something similar to this and I told him. emailed and asked her what she thought of it. I just kind of ran with it and made it more mine and added a lot of stuff to it.”

The project, she noted, took her three days.

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“I painted pretty much all day every day. I made a lot of trips to the store to get more paint, but that’s really how it went, and I was very pleased with the finished product at the end,” she said. “I had really never done anything like this before, so it was all new to me. But it was really fun and I enjoyed it a lot.”

A former kindergarten teacher at Lake Hamilton, Stallman took over as art teacher three years ago after the district elected to create a position dedicated to the program. While art was taught as part of each class’s curriculum, students now attend Stallman’s art class once a week for a full term.

Having this dedicated art program, she says, is very important for children.

“Growing up, it was a big part of me and my life,” she said. “I was super shy, didn’t want to talk to anyone, but it was just a very creative outlet for me and I want it to be for my kids too. I see a lot of personalities in my class that the teachers don’t see. in their classrooms because it’s just a different atmosphere when you’re doing what you want to do and being creative in your own way.”

Students also seem to take the program well, she said, as she rarely sees behavioral issues.

“We just try to have fun and enjoy it, you know. I try to tell them, ‘It’s okay to mess up. Let’s do something good. And all the different things that we can use, like a project, we used maybe three or four different mediums to come up with the project. So the end result might not be the prettiest thing, but, you know, they used foil, they learned how to print, we talked about different artists doing the same thing, this kind of stuff,” she said.

Another advantage is being able to dedicate 40 minutes to the class. She noted that kids don’t have that kind of time anymore with what they’re supposed to do with academics. She said it was all about “creativity and imagination”.

“I tried to do it more based on creativity instead of just cutting out a line that I printed on a piece of paper for you,” she said. “We draw the line first, then we cut it…there’s a lot more to do. I can spend two to three weeks on a project with the kids, whereas in class they don’t have that kind of time to do and put in. And I had a lot more gear that I could use and that kind of stuff, so we get a lot out of that.

Since kindergarten students are new to school, she said many of them don’t have supplies such as scissors, glue, or markers, and experiencing all of these things is very new to them. them. As a result, she starts them very slowly, and they use a lot of paper and do a lot of drawing, she said.

A key part of her teaching philosophy, she noted, is the value she places on the artistic process itself, as opposed to comparing each student’s finished projects.

“I don’t focus so much on the end product of everything. We focus a lot on how we get to the end product – what we use, and I try to teach them that we can use everyday objects for the art. Art really can be anything as long as you make it and it comes from your brain. And it’s really fun for them,” she said.

“As I said, a lot of these kids don’t have a lot of this stuff at home or have never used it at home, and so they’re really excited about coming to art and to use that kind of stuff.”

Her students enjoy making things the most with Crayola Model Magic, she said, which is a non-crumbled modeling compound that can be manipulated and joined to create any shape or form. Although it does not adhere to skin or part surfaces, it can be attached to plastic, wood, cardboard and other materials.

“It was one of the first years I used it,” she said. “I usually used clay, which I still use because I think it’s important for them to know what clay is, but I don’t have a kiln, so everything is dried at but it’s really fun because I buy white and we turn it into colors with markers, so it teaches them how to separate it into what they need, how to turn each into the color they need, and then together we make it what we’re going to make burgers and fries, then kindergarten made little pizzas, and it was really fun. They really enjoyed it.

The value his students place on their artwork is also important to the program. Stallman keeps all of the student projects and at the end of the year they make portfolios and can take it all home at the same time. She said it was especially exciting for them.

“It’s really exciting for them to finally be able to bring all their stuff home, and it kind of teaches them the importance of their artistic endeavors. You know, they’ve invested a lot, a lot of time, a lot of thought, a lot of energy, and I want them to take care of themselves and not just stuff them in the bottom of their backpack and go home,” she said with a laugh.

It also tells their parents the importance of the projects, she noted.

“Last year, a lot of parents told me how excited their kids were to come home with their art and show off their parents,” she said. “And also, I’ve had parents tell me that they’ve been fighting over who’s going to hang them where in their offices and that kind of stuff. So that’s really exciting and at the end of the year , they’re all like, “When can we get it? When can we get it?” And they ask me for weeks about their works.”

She believes the mural will be a pleasant surprise for the children when they return.

“I think they’re going to be excited about it. My sons, two of my children are in this building, so I’m glad they can see it,” she said.

Samantha Stallman, art teacher at Lake Hamilton Elementary School, talks about the new mural she painted at the entrance to the school and the effect the art program has had on the students. – Photo by Donald Cross from The Sentinel-Record
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