Keeping the Arts Alive in Our Schools
By Tara Fort
“We are the dynamic duo!”
With an introduction like that it’s hard not to fall in love with the efforts and passion shared by Amanda Chartier and Ann Hein, art instructors at Prescott High School (PHS). Both in their 29th year of teaching, these women are driven to make each experience unique and special for their students—a thread that rings true among the many educators and administrators in the Prescott Unified School District (PUSD).
Although both utilize a traditional approach to skill-building, Hein and Chartier agree that digital technology gives students more resources and serves as an advanced tool for artistic expression. Hein states that the roots still come from classical and traditional methods taught in early art classes. “We take the foundations that stem from drawing and painting, and see students who discover a voice that comes through the art as they express, communicate and share their talents.” Chartier is quick to echo those sentiments: “The biggest part of our roles includes building upon that foundation and understanding, and then being a part of the creative process and problem-solving that the students experience. The relationship becomes more involved and dynamic, and that’s what makes our jobs so much fun!”
While it may be difficult to pick a favorite project, Hein’s students enjoy screen printing their own t-shirts at the end of the year—a process that incorporates what the students learned throughout the year. Those making the leap to college learn about building a portfolio where entire bodies of artwork are uploaded to one place to create a digital folder and binder. For Chartier, many projects fall under the scope of favorites. “It’s exciting to see that lightbulb come on as they build a skillset and become excited about creating something unique.” There is no end in sight to the creativity these women spark in the minds of their students. Hein adds, “Every detail that goes in develops empowerment,” a benefit that is evident when students apply for jobs where specific skills must be demonstrated such as uploading media, framing artwork, and building a digital portfolio.
In the Prescott community, student artwork does not go unnoticed. Art shows are conducted year-round, including showcases at various local business and scholarship competitions. In addition, March is National Youth Art Month where student art work at local, state and national levels is featured throughout the country. Locally, the Ruth Street Theater Gallery will host the artwork collaboration from preschool, elementary, middle and high school students February 28 through March 28, and will feature an Opening Night Reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on February 28.
When Chartier and Hein aren’t teaching in the classroom, they are… well… collaborating on just about everything! “Our desks face each other in our shared office and we continually work together on developing curriculum throughout the year.” Both women are particularly excited about a grant they wrote with partner sculpture teacher Deb Hammer. Through the grant from the newly-formed PUSD Education Foundation, they were awarded $5,000 to buy Copic Markers. “These are state-of-the-art markers, and an industry standard for graphic arts. We would not have been able to afford them if it were not for the grant,” states Chartier.
Prescott Unified School District continues to stand apart from other state districts. Hein shares, “We really recognize the support we’ve had over the years from the district to keep the arts programs in our schools. We are fortunate that we still offer art education at early levels through 12th grade” Chartier adds, “The district has been faced with many challenging budget cycles and curriculum changes, and we remain committed to our visual arts offerings. We are a very art-minded community and we appreciate the community’s support of our programs.”
To find out more about this Dynamic Duo and Prescott Unified School District, visit http://www.prescottschools.com.