1. says

    I definitely need to get my hands on a copy of this book. (I will be teaching HS Art next school year.) My fondest memory of my HS years was working in our amazing B and W photography Darkroom. My Photography teacher was an Industrial Arts Teacher, but he had a true passion for Photography and ran his Photo classes like an “Arts Class”. What a wonderful teacher!

    • rachelle says

      Congratulations on the new job, Melissa! The photography room was another of my strong memories. What a cool experience for a kid to have. I can’t wait to hear more about the job!

  2. Emma says

    a month and a half into sophomore year, we moved high schools, we moved – from one small town (140? in the graduating class) to a smaller town (108? in the graduating class). I had *finally* found my niche and had made varsity as a field hockey center/midfielder. I made the varsity squad at the old school – but the coaches kept me on the JV squad and I played almost full games – so that once I moved, I was still eligible to play that season. We moved, the coaches recc. came with me, and the new coaches wouldn’t play me until we had practiced at least once. 2-3 weeks of practices were rained out. Only games were played and I was sidelined. When I finally played, I was rusty – I didn’t know anyone’s names on the team – 90% of my position was to pass and be passed to. It was frustrating, deflating, and essentially humiliating. I did what any self-respecting teenager would do. I quit. I walked out one day and left my (beloved) stick in the locker room – the expensive one I had begged and cajoled my parents for. Drama club took me in. I wasn’t interested in getting on stage, but technical crew filled some of my free time. It was a friendly and accepting group of people and I felt included. I’m not a talented artist, but I can paint a set like the best of them. By senior year I had my stride back, I was taking on leadership roles and mentoring the *new* kids. It was a welcoming place – much more so than the field hockey team. My only regret (both now & then) was not getting my hockey stick back…

    • rachelle says

      What a great story, Emma. And such a good example of how the arts can help a child find their place and not feel alienated in school. I’m also sorry you didn’t get your stick back (and that the hockey team was so thoughtless of your needs). Thanks so much for adding this to the conversation!

  3. Lucy says

    My fondest memories of high school were participating in a variety of sports and extra-curricular activities — you know, back in the days when it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to participate. Each sport or activity had its own built in personalities, but there was some level of competition and cooperation in all of them. An elective I didn’t have room for in my schedule was art, though I did lots of creative activities away from school. I’m trying to make sure my 4-year old niece is well-steeped in creativity. She has her own camera and stamps/inks/stickers/papers, and loves it all. This would be a perfect book for her, her parents and me. What a great concept! Thanks for shedding some much needed light on the subject.

    • rachelle says

      Sports and the arts are so similar in this way, aren’t they? They offer kids a chance to be themselves and learn about who they are through exploration, teamwork, conversation, friendship, etc. Your niece is lucky that you’re guiding the way, Lucy!

  4. Amy says

    My fondest memory of high school was hanging out in my art teacher Mrs. S’s classroom! I learned to be creative and had fun exploring a wide variety of art media. I was exposed to new music, artists and fun people. Mrs. S kept me coming back to school and wanting to learn more!

    • rachelle says

      Thanks for sharing, Amy! My HS art classroom was also the funnest place to hang out. It was an open-exploration and we could do ceramics, painting, or photography — totally up to us and wonderful!

  5. sarah hall says

    My fondest memory of middle school was the Saturday Art class. We got to paint murals in the school and eat lunch in the teachers lounge. It was the BEST part of school. We felt like we were in control of the whole school. It was such an awesome program.

    • rachelle says

      Ooooh, a Saturday art class. How cool is that? I wonder if schools are still doing that. Was this a private school, Sarah?

  6. Kristen Engebretsen says

    Thanks, Rachelle, for featuring Jessica’s new book. It looks wonderful!
    My fondest memory from high school was being in jazz band–everything from the early morning practice sessions to the friendships forged on long bus rides to performances and competitions all over the place, including Disneyland! To this day, I’m still proud of the music we made together in that jazz band! My bass guitar and my HS diploma are two of the few physical artifacts I still have from those days :)

  7. MiaB says

    Must have a copy of this book!!! Been trying for a while to relate this concept to students and parents. My fondest highschool memory wouldbe getting involved in the arts… Being in plays and going to fine arts competitions were so much fun for me!!!

  8. says

    Your interview definitely sparked my interest in Jessica’s book. It sounds full of interesting thoughts to ponder as I raise my child. Everyone tells me public school is no longer the same and arts is one of the first programs to go. Such a same. Good for you and Jessica for bringing this subject to everyone’s attention.

  9. says

    As a child I was in AP art at the art magnet school in Austin Texas. I also worked on the yearbook and the literary magazines. I can’t imagine high school with out these programs. Some of my best memories were made in these rooms up to my elbows in paint or newsprint. I learned how to screen print, how to work with clay, metal, oil pastels, and paint. All things I still do to this day.

  10. says

    oh my, fondest high school memory … hmm, mine are probably all from one class. Recycled Jewelry Making … I “accidentally” skipped an entire elective during the first half of my junior year. I naively thought my free period would last all year, but come the second half of school when we switched electives there was nothing left open for me. I was placed in the recylced jewelry making class as a sort of punishment. It was a special education class just before lunch and meant I also had to eat lunch with those students. Being placed in that class and working with those amazing kids and really getting to know them and being able to communicate their point of views to other kids in the cafeteria or on the school grounds made quite the impression on me. By far, my favorite part of high school and a very happy “accident”.

  11. says

    My fondest memory of high school is teaching dance for my PE class. We didn’t have a dance program and my parents had made me quit dancing for financial reasons so my teacher thought having me teach might be a good way to keep me connected to my passion.

    I currently teach dance to students in the Inglewood Unified School District as part of a partnership with the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (where I also teach). This experience changed me and helped me realize what my true passion is–advocating for Arts Education. I would LOVE to read a copy of your book. I have also been contemplating applying to the Arts In Education program at Harvard University. Pick me please!!!

    All the best!

  12. says

    One of my favorite classes in high school was called “Crafts” in which we made pottery using a wheel, batik T-shirts, metal jewelry. I almost didn’t take that class because my guidance counselor said it would hurt my class rank. He suggested I take another AP class, so I would remain in the running for the top 5 percent of the class. I decided to ignore his advice, felt happy staying in the top 10 percent of the class instead, and have never regretted it!

  13. says

    Thank you! I just picked up “The Drawing Mind” from the library! This topic is a fascinating topic to me. As a student in high school I took the typical college prep courses. I only took one art class and that was a year-long study of various art forms, from batik to ballet to rug hooking. I loved that class! Because I was a smart girl I was encouraged to go into engineering, which I did study in college. My schedule was so tight I had little room for electives. When I finally had room my senior year for one elective, I took a watercolor class. Again, that is the class I look back upon most fondly! Now I enjoy creating – mainly sewing and knitting – but I feel a deep need to create and wish I could have explored many more creative arts in my high school and college years. My own kids have been surrounded by arts, crafts and music. All of them had musical theater experiences starting in grade school. I struggle with the mandates on the high school curriculum, though. It leaves very little room for arts exploration. We push and push our kids to get into colleges….when they could grow by experiencing other kinds of classes. For this reason, I’m letting my daughter not take a 3rd year of French class so she can take an art class (in addition to orchestra.)

    • Kelli says

      (Sorry, my comment posted before I was done)
      I loved playing in the Jazz band in high school. We had to meet early, before school started, and that 45 minutes always seemed to rush right by.

  14. Jenni says

    High school art class was the best! I was always covered with paint. I figured my friends wouldn’t recognize me if there wasn’t paint on my hands. I was thrilled to be able to go to a special magnet school for the arts my senior year. Three class periods of pure joy! My other 3 classes were English 12, advanced writing, and humanities. My writing teacher had just gotten her PhD in English, and my humanities teacher was working on her PhD in art history. My senior year influenced me for the rest of my life, since I’m now an art historian. My daughter wants to major in art in college. High school without art would have been miserable!

  15. says

    I was a dancer and remember participating in all the high school plays and performances. Being a part of the after school dance program was a very important part of my high school memories.
    I now teach pottery to high school girls at risk.

    • says

      Alida, How great that you discovered for your self how important arts learning can be and that now you share the gift. Am sure your students will move from risk to promise. Right on. Jessica

  16. Dolores Rodriguez says

    Awesome article! Brought to mind some of my fondest memories of high school. I remember being involved in our one-act play “Dark Side of the Moon”. I was part of the crew because I was too shy to try out for a part, but I was mesmerized by the students playing their roles. Eventually, I started doing make-up and costumes. This was my way of getting on stage. I am now an art teacher at Eagle Pass High School, and I sponsor the Art Club. I get to see first hand how the Arts impact a students life, and how they can turn a troubled teen around.

  17. Abbas Ali says

    I definitely need to get my hands on a copy of this book too.
    I am an art teacher and also teach art educationto grade 6 to grade8.
    I established well-equipped art laboratory for first time in my school.I, as a teacher of Visual arts, focus on to display true spirit of this dynamic subject by attracting the students towards its beauty, craft, skill and lofty purpose of spreading message of peace and happiness through lines and colors I have a desire to extend art educationfrom middle to secondary and intermedate level classes of my setup. So I need a soft copy of this book.
    Abbas Ali

  18. Abbas Ali says

    I am an art teacher and also teach art educationto grade 6 to grade8.
    I established well-equipped art laboratory for first time in my school.I, as a teacher of Visual arts, focus on to display true spirit of this dynamic subject by attracting the students towards its beauty, craft, skill and lofty purpose of spreading message of peace and happiness through lines and colors I have a desire to extend art educationfrom middle to secondary and intermedate level classes of my setup. So I need a soft copy of this book for the promotion of are education in my country(Pakistan)too.
    Abbas Ali

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