Open-minded teaching promotes creativity in South Callaway art students

Dustin Haley, South Callaway elementary and middle school art teacher, gives third grader Lacey Mathews-Honamand advice on her artwork Wednesday during class. The students were learning symmetry by folding a pieces of paper and drawing aliens.

Dustin Haley, South Callaway elementary and middle school art teacher, gives third grader Lacey Mathews-Honamand advice on her artwork Wednesday during class. The students were learning symmetry by folding a pieces of paper and drawing aliens. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Jessica Binkley said art has brought creativity to her life even at her young age.

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South Callaway students (from left to right) Andrea, Paige, Jessica, Somer and Luke pose for a picture Tuesday inside the South Callaway elementary and middle school art room. The students were among 100 finalists for the statewide “Picture the Music” competition sponsored by the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association. The contest saw 13,000 entries.

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South Callaway Elementary School students Sydney Van Orden and Gabrielle Hecktor stand for a photo in their art classroom Tuesday. Artwork by Van Orden and Hecktor was selected for the Youth Art Month exhibition currently on display at the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City. The Missouri Art Education Association and Artsonia sponsored the contest.

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South Callaway sixth graders Kaylie Miller and Aubrey Atkins pose for a picture inside the South Callaway elementary and middle school art room Tuesday. Their art was chosen to be on display at the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City Missouri through the Youth Art Month contest sponsored by the Missouri Art Education Association and Artsonia.

Since she was a toddler, Binkley said she’s loved art and now, as a South Callaway third grader, she draws every day. Her role model is her big sister, who is working on a college degree in graphic design.

“It is really fun,” Binkley said. “It gives me inspiration to follow in my sister’s footsteps.”

This young artist’s creativity was evoked with an assignment in her art class with South Callaway teacher Dustin Haley.

Binkley and her classmates in elementary and middle schools listened to a song and were allowed to create what they heard. The assignment was not only from Haley, but the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association, an organization in conjunction with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

“It encourages them to think about what they hear in the music … It gets students to be creative, to be out of the box,” Haley said.

The association sponsors the “Picture the Music” contest and received about 13,000 entries.

Of all the entries — kindergarten through third grade — Binkley’s was selected as the best and given the Maestro award.

“I was, like, blown away,” Binkley said, describing how she felt when she received the award.

Her drawing will hang in the orchestra’s building, Powell Hall, for a year.

Binkley wasn’t the only student to receive recognition, though.

Fifth grader Paige Clubb was given a St. Louis Symphony Award, which are given to seven students total, one from each grade level. Out of 100 finalists, Luke Hartinger, sixth grader, earned one of the 25 blue ribbon awards. Andrea Witt, fifth grade, and Somer Jacobs, sixth grade, were special recognition honorees, placing within the top 66.

The Missouri Art Education Association and Artsonia’s Youth Art Month honored four South Callaway students — Gabrielle Hecktor, third grade; Sydney Van Orden, fourth grade; Aubrey Atkins, sixth grade; and Kaylie Miller, sixth grade. Their artwork is currently being displayed in the Capitol Rotunda at Jefferson City.

Haley said contests help motivate his students because there is a possibility their work could be published. With a plethora of contests, Haley said he picks the ones that are most in line with the curriculum, promote teaching concepts and have an open-ended theme.

The success of his students may lie within his classroom, which walls and ceiling are covered with art. If students draw quietly, they can listen to music as a reward. He kicked off class with third graders Wednesday with The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

When Haley was an elementary student, strict surroundings in art class constricted his creativity.

“The more you get away from that the more creativity you get,” Haley said.

Even with simple concepts, Haley said he finds ways for students to relate to assignments. Third graders practiced symmetry yesterday by drawing aliens.

“If it’s something that doesn’t relate to them it can be kind of tough … (If they can relate) they’re more willing to give you more of themselves,” Haley said.

Haley’s students have also been previously been honored in “drug-free” calendar contests and poster contests titled, “Fair Housing: Opening Doors — Unlocking Dreams” sponsored by the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors, Inc. Students are able to broaden, Haley said, their “social conscience” with these two assignments.

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