Art teachers are blessed in Sioux Falls, said Sherri Sherard, art educator at Edison Middle School. They are given leeway, and are able to be creative in how they teach and in what they teach.
That creative allowance shows in the array of tools and materials that line Sherard’s art supply room shelves. Students in her classroom are able to experience a wide range of artistic trades and crafts. Like many art educators know, not every student is going to be an artist. However, as Sherard notes, at least they gain the experience and process of creating certain things, like using a loom to weave. Sherard’s lessons are not just a practice in technique, they are woven with culture and history.
Ugly jugs, one of her favorite projects, explores ceramic jugs that were made by enslaved African-Americans. The jugs have been found along the routes of the Underground Railroad and on gravesites. The idea was that the face jug would be ugly enough to scare the devil or evil spirits away. The uglier the better, said Sherard, which can be reassuring to those students who feel less artistically inclined.
Sherard started teaching in 1989. Originally from Hurley, So.Dak., she is a Lenox High School graduate. After taking a couple years off from school to have children, Sherard received her Masters Degree in Special Education from Augustana University.
After a 2009 cancer diagnosis, Sherard started painting. She completed a watercolor every day during treatment. That therapeutic release eventually led to teaching acrylic painting through her own step-by-step painting classes. As an artist, she enjoys the meticulous challenge of painting things with very small detail, like ornaments.
Along with teaching, both in the classroom and from home, Sherard is the head of the student council at Edison. When we met with her, the tables of the supply room were stacked with Christmas gifts that students had gathered for the Heartland House. By the time the drive was done, the art supply room would be full of gifts ready to be delivered to individual children’s houses. It makes the children realize that their others much less fortunate, with much less than they have, said Sherard. -TNZ
Meet Sherri Sherard.
What led you to teach? I love to create and so do children. I thrive on their enthusiasm. Watching the students’ creative solutions continually inspires me.
What do you hope to teach to your students? My goal is to help children develop an understanding and appreciation of art. I also want my students to know that it’s ok to do the same thing over and over because each time you might discover something new.
Tell me about your teaching style. Each unit begins by helping the students create a base of background knowledge. After they have this core knowledge, I give them basic guidelines and let them discover and create from there.
What is your favorite medium to teach? Currently I’ve been enjoying teaching acrylic painting classes. Helping people discover their inner artist is a blast. It also has been a good source of a little additional income. Check out my Facebook page, Painting With Sherri.
What is the most important thing you teach your students? To think on their own, to dare to be different, and to solve their own problems.
If you weren’t an art teacher, what would you do? What is your dream job? I like to fish and garden. My dream job would be following the snowbirds south and teaching painting classes at the various retirement communities.
What type of art do you personally enjoying making? Crafts? Watercolor landscapes, fiber arts, repurposing, acrylic paintings, mixed media…depends on what inspires me at the moment!
What keeps you teaching? You never know what is going to happen next, which means I’m never bored. The look of joy in a child’s eye when they create something that makes them proud.