MARION COUNTY, Fla. – When Ann Hamilton first began teaching nearly 30 years ago, she traveled from classroom to classroom, rolling art supplies on a cart.
“Schools were usually overcrowded. There was no room and that’s pretty much how we did it,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton teaches art at East Marion Elementary School in a portable classroom. She said the room is too small to safely distance during the pandemic, so she’s brought back her rolling art classroom.
“It’s like all of the sudden smiles go on and they’re like, ‘Yay, Ms. Hamilton, we’re glad to see you. We get to do art.’ It’s just exciting for them,” she said.
Hamilton said she designs her lessons so that students do more than create art.
“Most every lesson I do starts with art from a famous artist, either current or from the past. And they look at it, they talk. They compare two pictures together: What’s the same, what’s different? It teaches them how to see, what to look for kind of,” she said. “When they can talk about art and think about things that don’t have a definite answer, or one answer or one way to solve a problem, they have to use their brain. They have to start thinking outside of the box. They have to think of new ways to do things. You know in math class, one plus one is two, two plus two is four. There’s not going to be a different answer when you go there. But in art, there are a zillion ways to solve a problem that a teacher presents.”
And Hamilton said now, art is now more important than ever.
“They’ve had so much stress. They need to kind of have a release and have a way to let go and their mind creative and to think about something other than everything else going on around them,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said in addition to visiting classrooms with her rolling art studio, she also teaches online on Fridays, so that students learning virtually can still enjoy a creative outlet.