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"Legacy is fundamental to what it is to be human…without a sense of working to create a legacy, adults lose meaning
in their lives. Legacy helps us decide what kind of life we want to live and the kind of world we want to live in."
—Susan V. Bosak, legac project.org
Nancy with NAEA 2016 Western Region Award recipients at the
National Convention in Chicago. Nancy was awarded the NAEA
2016 Western Region Art Educator of the Year.
Photo by Seth Freeman.
f you are fairly new to teaching art, you may
not have given much thought to your legacy,
but those of us who are seasoned teachers may
find ourselves devoting considerable reflection
to this idea. I was reminded of this while binge-
listening to the soundtrack of the smash-hit
Broadway musical Hamilton. The theme of leg-
acy is what drives Hamilton's narrative—Who
lives? Who dies? Who tells your story?
Even though this might sound like a bit of
an exaggeration when referring to art teachers,
we do care about what happens to our students.
We want to feel that we have made a difference
in our students' lives, even though we rarely get
to know that personally once students move
on from our artrooms and schools. Yet we don't
have much time for reflection in the middle of
dealing with our immediate concerns, such as
the class right in front of us, the next one com-
ing, and lesson plans and grades that are due.
I became an art teacher because of the sense
of purpose it gave me and because I hoped to
make a difference in my students' lives. Over
the span of thirty years, I taught in only three
schools, purposely so that I could stay with my
students as long as possible to watch them grow.
Now I hope my legacy will be my efforts to
share art education's best practices and advocate
for art teachers through SchoolArts. It's cer-
tainly the best job I'll ever have.
At the end of Hamilton, his widow Eliza
speaks to him: "Can I show you what I'm proud-
est of?" In her case, it's an orphanage, but what
will it be for you? What are you most proud
of? What will be the story of your life as an art
teacher? What will your legacy be?