An interview with Art-Ed Hero Lauren Connelly of Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School


Where do you teach and what grades do you teach? I teach grades kindergarten through fourth at Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary.

How long have you been teaching art? This is my fifth year teaching art in a school setting. Before this, I worked and taught at The Frist Art Museum as well as leading groups and individuals through pottery painting at Third Coast Clay Ceramic Studio.

What is your favorite time of the school day and why? My favorite time of the school day is 11:25-12:25. This is when I teach my kindergartners. I love all of the grades that I teach but there is something about the pure joy and excitement of kindergartners that I just love.

What is your favorite lesson or concept to teach?  I love to paint with my students, especially when I teach color families. I love to show students that you don’t need a ton of materials to create art. Teaching the primaries and color mixing allows my students to know that if all they have are blue, red, and yellow paint they still have the power to create other colors needed for their piece.

Who is your favorite artist to teach kids about? Currently, my favorite artist to teach my student’s about is Keith Haring. I say currently because it changes frequently. Right now my students are loving his use of line and color and are surprised by how something that looks simple is actually more challenging to draw than they originally thought. His artwork and message are extremely relatable to my students-they love that he created art in places for everyone to see. They also love the movement and action within his figure drawings.

What does your studio practice outside of the classroom look like and how does it make its way into your classroom? My studio practice outside of the classroom is honestly very hit or miss. Oil painting has always been my first love but after starting teaching and starting a side pottery painting business I find myself being very inconsistent with my practice. All of this to say that painting has always been my favorite thing to teach in the classroom. I have recently found myself wanting to scratch all of my personal work and start completely over with something completely different- a new body of work entirely. I’m not sure what this will look like as I feel like I’m processing what that is going to be for me moving forward. This has impacted my classroom as I have found myself branching out a lot this school year trying all new projects and materials. It has been really fun to experiment and I’m excited to see where it leads.

What’s your least favorite thing you get asked to do by your colleagues? My least favorite thing I often get asked to do is to create decorations for colleagues weddings, baby showers, kids birthdays, you name it, I have been asked to create decorations and paintings for it!

Do you let people borrow your glue guns? I do let people borrow my glue guns but only because my colleagues know how OCD I am about my supplies and they always make sure to return them.

How often do you collaborate across disciplines and what is a collaboration you are excited about right now? I try to collaborate across disciplines as often as I can. Currently, I am working with our fourth-grade team on their study of the Civil Rights. I am extremely lucky to have a Museum Room within my school and The Frist Art Museum is lending us their exhibit “We Shall Overcome”. This exhibit contains photos from the Civil Rights movement in Nashville. This is especially important for my students because many of the photos in the exhibit were taken in their neighborhood of North Nashville. Our fourth graders are being trained to act as docents for this exhibit and will actually lead tours for our younger students. They will also be creating their own photographs in response to this exhibit. Needless to say, I am quite excited about this opportunity!



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