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Showcasing Christine Kitzmiller and "School Art"

When Christine Kitzmiller arrived at Tennessee's Springfield High School, she was surrounded by bare walls. But she didn't see bare walls -- she saw canvas!

Students complete a mural in the school's main hallway.

"I thought, 'This school needs art everywhere,'" Kitzmiller told Education World. "I was told by a young art teacher not to hang up art in the halls because it would be destroyed, but I started to hang art everywhere anyway. The students loved it."

Kitzmiller turned one side of a long hallway that leads to her art room into a "gallery;" on the other side of the hallway, the students painted their first mural. It was a modern "tag" style of street art. The students went nuts over it, and Kitzmiller got her start!

"My students are great painters and draw-ers, and basically, they've loved all the projects we've done," she explained. "We now have finished five murals and are working on our sixth. My art students love painting them, and all the students love looking at them. They bring a lot of pride to our school and to our community. My principal and supervisor think they are a great addition to Springfield High School."

Teachers at the school even have been requesting murals for their classrooms. As students work on an art department mural, planning is underway for the next project -- a mural for the band room. But classrooms and hallways aren't the only areas being graced with the art of Kitzmiller's ninth through 12th graders.

The mural in the school's main hallway was completed during the
summer of 2003.

"We painted 36 banners on canvas for our lunchroom," said Kitzmiller. "Those banners are seasonal banners that one of my classes painted before Christmas. The lunchroom staff keeps them up so the room will look festive throughout the year. Students say the lunchroom isn't so boring anymore!"

Kitzmiller's goal is to change the inside of the building visually so students will be exposed to good art and their behavior will improve. She believes that her role as an art teacher is to inspire students to love art, to learn about art and, maybe, to learn how to understand art in their lives.

"My art students are becoming a powerful force within the school; they reflect some of the positive changes I am trying to make with art," she observed. "I started an art club, and we have about 45 members. We have our own sweatshirts, and we do small beautification projects around the school. Next year, I want to start a computer art class and move our art onto the computer. Right now, we are busy just painting a mural on every free wall!"

Image courtesy of Christine Kitzmiller.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World


Updated 02/18/2010