Elementary Art Teacher
It’s easy to see Hannah Benson’s enthusiasm for art and her love for her young students. It’s displayed all over her elementary art classroom, from students’ self-portraits mounted on primary-colored walls to a painted paper plate floral arrangement at the front of the room.
The first-year Heritage teacher begins each class period, seated on a short-legged, wooden chair that’s upholstered with multi-colored, quilted fabrics. It’s just the right height for her to engage her young students, who cluster before her, cross-legged on a bright orange and white floral rug. A large, black, framed blackboard sits on an easel beside her, with the calligraphied words, “Our God is a great artist! Let’s be like Him.”
It’s from this vantage point that Benson prays with her students and delivers instructions for the day’s assignment, before dismissing them to the pint-sized art tables and stools where they’ll unleash their creativity with water colors, crayons and glue sticks.
Elementary Art Teacher, Hannah Benson
Throughout the year, she teaches them the foundational elements and principles of art; lines, shapes, colors, space, form, texture, balance, contrast, etc. As part of a lesson about how to use different kinds of lines, Benson engages kindergarteners in a water color project based on the work of the Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky. “It’s all about getting them to think creatively by encouraging them to use their imagination,” she says. Benson lavishes her students with affirmation and encouragement, knowing that in doing so, she will help build their confidence in themselves and in their artistic expression.
She speaks often about God as the ultimate creator and divine artist. She seizes teachable moments to help students understand more about their Creator and their relationship to Him, at a time when they are developing some of their first ideas and conceptions about God.
It’s all about getting them to think creatively by encouraging them to use their imagination.
Outside her classroom, a bulletin board displays second and third graders’ personal expressions of “Whoo We Are in Christ.” Beneath their individual, colorful depictions of an owl, each student has filled in the blank to the question Benson posed: “In Christ, I am _____.” Their honest, heart-felt responses reflect authentic spiritual insight. Some students describe why they believe they are God’s masterpiece; others how they know they are a son or daughter of the King; some, how they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Others have filled in the blank with adverbs like “beautiful and strong,” “special because nobody is like me,” “a new creation” and “forgiven.”
Benson is keenly aware that she’s helping to lay a strong foundation for students’ artistic knowledge and experience that will help them transition into art in intermediate and middle school. “I hope that they’ll be intrigued by art, so that they’ll keep wanting to do it and further develop their skills,” she says.