Editor's Letter: Beginnings

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Sep 1, 2018

Whether you are a newbie or a veteran art teacher, the beginning of the school year always offers a fresh new start and an opportunity to set high expectations for your students. To renew or reinforce your enthusiasm for teaching art, it is a good time to reflect on the reasons you became an art teacher.

Doing what I like best: sharing the successes of art teachers. This photo was taken at the NAEA New Orleans convention. Left to right: Michelle Lemons, John Lentine, me, Thom Knab, and Susan Bivona.

I asked this question on several Facebook groups and received some engaging and thoughtful responses.

Why Are You an Art Teacher?
When I step into my artroom, I am home. When I am with other art teachers, I am with family.
—Ted Daniel Edinger,

I originally got into art because I felt I had a talent in making art and really liked working with kids. Today, after being an art educator for twenty-seven years, I can say I have stayed an art educator because I feel a calling to serve others, especially those who will someday impact our world in incredible ways. In addition, art is such a powerful form of expression and I want to be an educator who brings that experience to young people.
—Bob Reeker,

I became an art teacher to empower children. As an art school college student, I felt ill-prepared for the level of rigor expected of me, and yet I also felt that my college teachers were ill-prepared to teach effectively. I thought there was much room for improvement in the field of art education, and my goal was to prepare students for art school. Now, I see my job as educating students to empower their self-confidence. Often, visual art seems to be created only for the arts-educated. My job is to make sure my students are arts- educated, and that they, too, belong in the world of art.
—Suzanne Nall,

I am an art teacher for many reasons. First, I had an amazing art teacher when I was young. He inspired me and made me feel talented, and he passed his love for art along to me. Secondly, I am a people person. I cannot stand sitting at a desk all day, staring at a computer screen. There is a bit of a performance element to teaching, and it lends itself well to my extroverted tendencies. Finally, there are a lot of kids who struggle academically, and it makes me happy to know that for the forty-five minutes they spend in my room they have the freedom to try new things and simply create.
—Kaitlyn Palumbo,

In fifth grade, when we were asked to write what we wanted to be when we grew up, I wrote that I wanted to be an artist or a teacher. My district didn’t have art until high school, so I didn’t know they could be put together! I wanted to help and work with people and to be a good role model, like my teachers had done with me, and when I found out that I could do that with art, I made up my mind pretty quickly.
—Katie Lehmkuhl Morris,

As for me, I share many of these sentiments. Making a difference for my students by teaching art was meaningful and rewarding to me. Now that I am out of the classroom, I want to make a difference for teachers just like you by sharing your efforts, ideas, joys, successes, and concerns through SchoolArts. Let’s get started!

Email Nancy at

Email Nancy at

View this article in the digital edition.