Teachers Who Inspire: Art Imitating Life

In high school most students just want to get it over with. Some will fail, others will go on to receive academic scholarships; then there was me. I had a semi interest in my new high school. I was the new kid, newly relocated from Anchorage, AK, to Goldsboro NC. Talk about culture shock!

I have always been interested in art -- drawing, painting, writing, anything creative -- so the only thing I looked forward to was art class with Mrs. Lou-Ann Smith. Even at my worst she always saw the good in me or my artwork. She never let me give up or turn in crap. As my social status grew, so did my confidence in not only myself but my artwork. Mrs. Smith noticed and started using my pieces as examples for other classes. She became so impressed with my work that she sent two of my best to our county fair. If it hadn't been for her nurturing nudge, I would have never won second place in the painting category and first in the oil pastels.

Come yearbook time, I was asked, "What one person inspired you?" I knew my answer would be printed next to my senior picture, so I pointed out my wonderful art teacher and dedicated all my current art work and all future projects to her. As I passed her on the last day of school, I proudly asked if she would please sign my yearbook. She agreed, and so I pulled the book open to my dedication caption to her and she read it for the first time. She looked at me and smiled and embraced me in a tearful goodbye hug. I had come to enjoy her classes, and regretted not being able to spend my entire high-school career with her.

As I went on to college to pursue my fine arts degree, every piece of art was made with her in mind; I even came back to visit her every once in awhile with my portfolio in tow. Ten years have passed and I never stopped being creative. She has inspired me to be a better mom, a better person and to see life for what it truly is: ART. She's helped me aid my children with the tools to be creative; she's inspired me to become a writer and graphic designer; she helped me learn to believe in the things that I create and to never doubt myself.

And as I went on to finish college for my criminal justice degree, Mrs. Smith's art class was always in the back of my mind. I then realized that I had gone back to school for the wrong reasons and needed to be true to myself. Life is too short to be afraid of what will happen next, or worry about what people will say about your work. Live life as if it was your first, everyday.

My teacher inspired me to be, Me.

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