The passion of a Natchitoches Magnet Art Teacher: Creating well-rounded students

In spring of 2023 I had the privilege of attending one of the most awesome art shows one would want to attend. This art show was featured at the Natchitoches Magnet school, whose principal is Stephonie French. The art teacher responsible for this great event was art teacher Erin Parish. The NPSB Office of Interest and Opportunity promotes activities and events which help develop students into well-rounded students in our district. Thank you so much for reading the incredible story below about the passion of an art teacher for the success of her students, shared by Erin Parish.
William Hymes M.Ed., Interest and Opportunities Specialist for the Natchitoches Parish School Board
Ride the Wave of Success: A Fluorescent Art Show
I’m Erin Parish and I teach K-8th Art at Natchitoches Magnet School. Being responsible for these grades is daunting on its own, but creating an art show based around the students’ work always seemed like an even steeper challenge. Conversely, creating a plan for an art show is always exciting no matter the challenge.
In my five years at Natchitoches Magnet, I only had the opportunity to produce one art show. It was in December of 2019 and I had another one planned for May 2020 but, well, Covid-19 had other plans. Now that it’s 2023, I told myself that it’s time to bring it back even if I couldn’t reserve the gallery at NSU that I used for my only other art show since NSU art graduates have priority. However, I concluded that I would have it on the Natchitoches Magnet campus during Field Day. We have the parent picnic during Field Day as well, so, what would be a better way to show off the student’s work than when everyone is on campus having fun?
The inspiration came from social media. I’ve had glow painting parties in the past before I was a teacher, but when I saw someone do it for an art show for their students, I became excited. This was the comeback from Covid I was looking for and now was the time to do it as our school theme is “Ride the Wave of Success”. I had a fundraiser to ensure I would have the things needed for the show as inflation has hit everyone hard, but especially the arts. Art supplies were already expensive, but now they’re outrageous. I didn’t want the students to suffer because of that. Our Band Director Mrs. Hudlow came up with the fundraiser idea and it was a great success! I am so thankful for her.
The students in the elementary levels created all kinds of sea creatures; snails, sea turtles, clownfish, octopi, jellyfish, and seahorses. Our 4th graders had more choice to create their own since they were on the cusp of becoming 5th graders. I gave them a taste of what to expect next year if they decided to stick with art and stay with my students (though they will always be in my heart if they leave). Our junior high art elective students created various sea creatures using paper mache covered in plaster which were painted. They also used foam clay to create smaller versions of other sea creatures, mythical and real. This took them two months to accomplish and I couldn’t be prouder for their dedication to their craft.
Now, our school theme changes every year so next year our show will be something completely different. This gives the students a chance to create something new instead of the same thing over and over again. I can’t wait for next year and to create an entirely new art show for the students!