You Gotta Have Art MCM Highlights Local Programs


Genesee County Schools boast some wonderful Visual Arts programs! The teachers strive to boost the students’ self-esteem, problem-solving skills and intelligence, while cultivating their individual creativity. MCM was granted access to the spaces where young artists enjoy true freedom of expression, and invited them to talk about what art education means to them.

Hamady Middle/High School

Instructor: John Buchheister (7 years)
Favorite Artist and Piece: Two favorite artists are Albrecht Durer and Francis Bacon.

What made you decide to be an art teacher?

My high school art teacher encouraged me to go into teaching.

Why are the Visual Arts important for students?

The study of the arts grows habits of discipline and focus. Creation of art supports problem-solving and creative thought, as well as critique skills. School art programs keep many students engaged in the learning process, which improves attendance. The arts foster learning in many other skills – the skill of thinking creatively and critically will help students throughout their lives.

Taylor Barton

How is teaching art different from other subjects?

Art is one of the only subjects that allows the student to express themselves. By creating projects that include learning from their other classes, teachers can use the arts to help students synthesize and adapt lessons from other studies.

What is your favorite student memory?

I helped a fifth-grader who was being bullied in his homeroom by letting him use my room as a safe space.

Gregory Nelson

What makes you most proud to be an art teacher?

I am the only designated art teacher in the district (Westwood Heights). It is my responsibility to introduce and encourage the arts to my students.

Carman-Ainsworth High School

Instructor: Boris Turner (24 years)

Favorite Artist and Piece: Salvador Dali, “Persistence of Memory”

What made you decide to be an art teacher?

It started with an interest in fashion. As a student at Mott, I was told by administrators that I could teach art during the year and have my summers off to do my personal art – so, I gained much more interest in the visual arts.

“Art means everything to me. It isn’t just about
sound,lines or colors. It’s a language that
only a small group of people can understand.”
– Tiffany

Why are the Visual Arts important for students?

The visual arts provide essential components: connecting art to their worlds, presenting the impact of art on their lives and society, and understanding the impact of creativity on personal, social and academic issues.

How is teaching art different from other subjects?

Art provides individuals with freedom and a personal creative process like no other. It inspires, calms, enhances and provokes. It is the only subject in which an opinion can be put forth and never be wrong. Art is free of bias.

“Through one piece of artwork, hundreds of different feelings
and messages can emerge. Art inspires, and I enjoy being able
to hold onto that going into each project of mine.”
– Sean

What is your favorite student memory?

Recently, I was re-acquainted with a former student at the grocery store. I heard a voice call my name, turned around and recognized the gentleman. The last time I saw him was in fourth grade! He was the type of student who was always excited by his work, so he stood out. The little boy I taught years ago was now a grown man in his early thirties. I’m proud that he turned out to be a successful and accomplished person, and I feel I had a part in his success.

What makes you most proud to be an art teacher ?

Creating memories that will last a lifetime.


Armstrong Middle School

(Kearsley Community Schools)

Instructor: Kirk Timmons (23 years)
Favorite Artist and Piece: Maurice Sendak; depiction of the “wild rumpus” in Where the Wild Things Are

What made you decide to be an art teacher?

I fully intended to teach middle school art and ultimately, become a “professional” artist. It has taken me a long time to realize that teaching art is an art career and, in a way, I am a “professional” artist. The program is my artform. My artwork is the student in my class in whom I manage to instill confidence, self-esteem and a love of creativity. I like to think of myself as part art teacher, part artist-in-residence.

Why are the Visual Arts important for students?

I could go on and on about the importance of visual arts education and there have been many studies done to support it. However, for a program to be beneficial academically, it has to be rigorous. The foundation of the way I teach art is skill development. If students don’t have the necessary skill set or know proper techniques and use of materials, they can’t express what they feel, visually.

“Art is a way to express my feelings and creativity.” – Hannah

“Art is communication through drawing, painting or other forms. It’s a way to express feelings.” – Katelyn


What is your favorite student memory?

My favorites all involve the moment I realized I had made some kind of impact on them, usually involving art. Often, this happens in the form of notes that they send me years later. If students only realized how much those notes mean to teachers, they might send more! Everyone should sit down and write a note to a teacher who impacted their life.

What makes you most proud to be an art teacher?

I feel the most pride as an art teacher when I display my students’ finished artwork. I am often amazed by the talent and creativity that kids show at such a young age. It gives me great satisfaction that they are learning what I am trying to teach them.

“Art means everything to me. Without art we wouldn’t have anything – from buildings to pencils.” – Mikayla

“Art is a way to express my emotions and creativity. I would love to be an art teacher like Mr. Timmons.” – Grace

Powers Catholic High School

Instructor: Robert Voiles
(7 years)
Favorite Artist and Piece: Vincent Van Gogh,“Café Terrace at Night”

What made you decide to be an art teacher?

I love helping others in their education and I have a passion for the arts. Both are essential for positively impacting the future.

“Art is beautiful. Art has a meaning that is not
the same between individuals. It is unique.”
– Therese

Why are the Visual Arts important for students?

It is my goal to make students aware of the arts and to develop their creativity. No matter what career a student chooses, a creative mind will be essential. The arts are the best way to develop that.

What is your favorite student memory?

In my first year of teaching, a student who struggled in all of her other classes told me that art class was her only time to relax – her favorite place to be in school.

“It [art]is a way to help people. It’s a way to feel what they feel. Creative minds and artists should come together and help turn a person’s troubles into something positive and great.”
– Katarina

What makes you most proud to be an art teacher?

I love working with all of the talented, young artists we have here.

“I often get stressed or anxious about things
and art (drawing) relieves those feelings.”
– Viktoria

Photography By Kayce McClure


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