In college, I majored in Interior Design and had to take a lot of art classes. One of my art teacher’s was not only a good teacher, but she was really cool, too.
She was probably only about 30 years old, so not much older than her students. Except for one, an older man in our class who, by the looks of him, had lived a rough life of motorcycles, drugs, and wild living, but who had, sometime in his 60’s or 70’s, decided he wanted to go to college. So, there he was in my art class, his creased face and I’m-too-old-to-care-what-anyone-thinks-about-me attitude a stark contrast to the rest of us insecure teenagers/twenty-somethings. One day in the middle of instructing, my art teacher stopped mid-sentence, walked up to him, a twinkle in her as she gazed at him, and said, “I mean this in the most flattering way: Would you let me draw your face sometime? All my models are usually young college kids with perfect bodies and the wrinkles on your face are so much more intriguing.” Of course, not minding the attention of this young lady who was less than half his age, he chuckled and said, “I’ve got more wrinkles, if you’d like to see them.” She laughed with good humor about that.
There was another time probably in November of that semester when, just as we were walking into the art building, God blessed us with an early-winter snow. There were a slew of freshmen from Asia in that class who normally congregated together and never spoke to anyone else, aside from one boy they’d designated as their official translator. They entered the classroom that morning in an unusually heightened state of excitement, chattering away to each other and making big gestures with their arms. Allured by it, my art teacher asked the designated speaker, “What are you all talking about?” He replied, “We have never seen snow.” Hearing that, she opened the door to the classroom and said, “If this is your first time to see snow, you are excused from class today.” Of course, half the American kids ran out of class when she said this- but she excused them, too.
I think I learned more about both art and life from her than any other art teacher I had. And there was something about that that made me want to do my best in that class. And looking back on it, my work from that class was some of the best of my entire college career.
If you’re a teacher and you can have this kind of impact on someone, may God bless you and may you find joy in your work.