Courtesy of San Benito High School Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum:
Dear San Benito High School Parents, Students and Community:
Art has the ability to inspire empathy, as noted by San Benito High School art teachers Christina Ross and Luisa Toste, who say, “It can tell a story, evoke emotion, provide beauty and ponderance, and art’s messages have lived beyond its creator.
Art is an opportunity for the creator to have a voice. In this time of uncertainty, instability, bombardment of social media, and the inability to decipher fact from fiction, art is providing a voice to the people who create it.”
San Benito High School’s Art Department works to encapsulate all of this within each class taught. As we abruptly switched from in-person to virtual teaching last Spring, our art teachers continued to provide lessons with the same amount of rigor as before.
“We do this to ensure we are providing our students with the opportunity to find their voice, their style, and feel safe expressing themselves,” Ross and Toste said, adding, “As teachers, we continue to practice our Baler STRONG core values and embed them into our lessons and instill them in our students. Our rigorous lessons maintain the expectation of student accountability of participating in their education as scholars.”
Mrs. Ross provides one-on-one consultations every two weeks with each student and their parent/guardian to discuss questions and goal setting and progress.
“We acknowledge that art takes time and practice to master,” she said, “so we offer opportunities for students to rework and resubmit their projects utilizing teacher feedback to demonstrate this mastery and earn a higher grade.”
At least once per week students practice peer feedback, building each other up to help them achieve their best.
“I am proud of the teamwork I have seen in our students,” Ross said.
During their self-critiques and their completion of each assignment, students reflect on their processes, technique, challenges, how they overcome those challenges, how they can utilize what they learned from the project to apply to future assignments, and their finished product in written evidence of acquisition of skills.
Opportunities are provided to every student to expand their experiences, find their voice, discover new techniques, and build community. Students are encouraged to discover their interests and recognize art is involved in future careers. For instance, students who enjoy science and art are encouraged to pursue scientific illustration. Local, state, and national calls for artists, competitions, and pre-college courses are disseminated in student Google Classrooms.
During these stressful and uncertain times our art teachers work with understanding and compassion to nurture the voice and art of each student.
“We also remind students to provide the same for their classmates,” Ross noted. “We are encouraged to see a more empathetic and welcoming community within our classes. We maintain a vision to build a program that demonstrates to students the professional possibilities involving art, creativity, and problem solving skills they have learned in the classroom. It is the opportunity to prepare students to grow as productive members of society and to find success in what they desire.”
While class meetings are shorter than last year, and we are virtual rather than in-person, our art teachers continue to provide exciting opportunities in each project, allowing each student to have choice in the completion of each assignment. This semester, students are experimenting with digital media, repurposing found objects, and utilizing materials available to them. Projects include comic art, mixed media self-portraits, posters to inspire change, children’s books, scientific illustrations, and awareness campaigns.
The creativity, responsiveness and caring displayed by San Benito High School’s art teachers remind us that every day is a great day to be a Baler!
San Benito High School Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum