magnet school in an economically depressed area
of town. It took me years to realize, on reflec-
tion, just how unusual it was. We had two art
teachers, two science teachers, a music teacher,
and a Spanish teacher (such staffing I have never
My first teaching job was at Stoner Hill Elemen-
tary Laboratory School in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Stoner Hill was a combination neighborhood/
For the first three years I taught there, we had
no air-conditioning. In Louisiana. In unbeliev-
Nancy and Melba Sullivan, her first principal, at a Stoner
Hill Elementary, patriotic, school-wide celebration.
able humidity. When we finally did get window
air-conditioners, mine was so loud that I had to turn it off every time I introduced a lesson.
This was so long ago that the only media we had were filmstrip projectors and an actual
movie projector. The first art reproductions I remember being commercially available were the
multicultural print sets published by the Getty, though I did find sets of black-and-white art
reproductions from Davis Publications.
Our classrooms did not have televisions, telephones, or computers (which, at that time, took
up whole rooms). My art supplies consisted mostly of crayons, construction paper, glue, scis-
sors, and tempera paint, and scavenged resources such as baby food jars, milk jugs, paper egg
cartons, wallpaper books, cardboard, and the like. I used cigar boxes from mom and pop gro-
cery stores to organize art supplies on my tables.
I survived the five years I was there due to the incredibly generous help of my fellow art
teacher Sophie Duke (she kindly taught the kindergartners and shared all her lessons with
me), SchoolArts magazine (to which I immediately subscribed), and the National Art Educa-
tion Association (joining made me feel part of a larger professional community).
My biggest challenges, though, were the same things art teachers face today: maintaining
discipline (it took me a long time to develop the “look”); having enough significant lessons to
teach (I saw my classes three times a week!); making administrators and others aware of the
value of art education; and reaching students from different backgrounds and experiences who
ranged from kids with too many “toys” and not enough attention, to kids who came to school
hungry and with holes in their shoes.
As the new school year begins for all of us, it is School Arts’ intention to help you get off
to a good start. Along with our regular departments and studio lessons, we are offering two
new features this year that I wish had been available when I began teaching: Managing the
Artroom and Beginning Teacher Survival Guide.
Whether you have a computer or a chalkboard, a digital projector or a television, a visual
presenter or a slide projector, the lack of or a wealth of art supplies, our focus is, as always, on
the concerns of art teachers at every level. Welcome back!