Friday, August 27, 2010

She's still smiling...or the disaster area, part 2

If you read my saga the other day about the mess in the high school art room, this is a follow-up, as today I took a few photos in the room. These images show what we found in many storage bins, plus a couple of other photos of the mess. I wish I remembered to take pictures of the room as a whole, so you could see a BEFORE and AFTER comparison after it is all clean.
And the rest of these photos below show the inside of the clay room. I don't think I need to say more or write captions for you to get the message. Because none of the buckets, barrels, tubs, cans, etc are labeled, there is very we are able to salvage beyond the wheels and kiln. What a waste!

But - the new young teacher is still smiling, and will be working all next week to have the room ready for the day after Labor Day weekend, when school actually begins.
A major blessing is our school's WONDERFUL custodial and maintenance staff, who have been just magical. Dan & Dawn, I know you wouldn't be reading my blog, but I'm going to say thank you here anyhow. These two terrific custodians have been in the room, keeping the new teacher company, music playing, taking one bin at a time, scraping, scrubbing, & washing, with cheerful faces and conversation all day. They have hauled out loads of trash, and been such sweethearts to the new teacher. I've been in there when I can, but honestly I still have stuff I need to do in my room - some supplies to put away, shelves to label, lessons to set up, etc, so I need to divide my time. But her room is more critical. I feel like we should be putting out yellow tape to mark out a 'condemned' area!
Also today, a kindergarten teacher gave up some markers, a music teacher offered a loan of a rolling white board, and I'm sure other acts of kindness will follow. And the superintendent, a strong supporter of the arts, kindly told me that she could put in an order for whatever she needs to get her program up and running. And your many comments to my prior gloomy blog posting, when everyone else is posting their shiny happy squeaky-clean rooms, make me know that the time spent blogging is worth it. It's good to know people care! THANKS, everyone!


  1. The pictures really are shocking! No one can understand the work it will take to whip the room back in shape unless they have done it! I am glad she has a good attitude. Maybe the parents will help once school starts? Then again that might be embarrassing though for the school. No way around it just gotta do it.

  2. Yeah, I'm leary about the parent thing. Plus there's less parent involvement in the high school, I'm afraid. And, it being a small town, gossip gets around, and it could be touchy. She had her own kids in the school district before she left, so gossip could get back to her.
    The art teacher who left had one huge thing that made her popular to the school community that wasn't aware of the lack of curriculum. A very talented artist, she designed and created sets for the annual school musical production. Her work was phenomenal, and the musicals are well-attended by virtually everyone. The sets had a real WOW factor. Problem was, the art teacher tossed any curriculum aside to get this stuff done, and did it all in her art room during class time (not after school), with her art room materials, with never so much as a dropcloth underneath. BUT unless a student complains to a parent, all the parent sees is a beautiful set for the musical. And not all students complain, because, after all, in art class they could check their facebook pages, eat, fool around, paint on the walls and tables, and come and go as they please. She was every kid's buddy. The only kids who complained are those who craved real art instruction. And often, they don't know they are missing what they don't have. So like you said, we've just gotta do it. It will take time, but the new gal will turn it all around, I'm confident.

  3. It is hard to really imagine how much work this is going to take to get the room back in shape and ready for students! People just do not understand how much work is takes to keep the art room organized and clean!!! I just spent the last three days putting new supplies away and organizing materials and I left my room in excellent condition in June - and it still took me a long time. I did not have to wash or dust ONE thing. Next week I have bulletin boards and showcases to work on PLUS all my lesson plans and organizing materials for that. The is NO silver lining here - but if I can shed one ray of hope... she will get it the way she REALLY wants it and she will KNOW what she has. She will most likely NEVER let this happen again in her career! She is also going to have to spend time RETEACHING the students RESPECT for the art room and the materials! I know you are an amazing help and inspiration to this new teacher - try not to let her get down! She will get it done (and really it does not ALL have to get done before Sept. 7th). Good Luck to ALL! Thank God for good custodians!!!

  4. I bet the custodians LOVE her! In my limited experience, custodians generally love when teachers get junk out of their rooms! It will probably make it easier for them to do their jobs when they can actually move through the room. Good luck to your new art teacher, luckily she has an understanding mentor like you!

  5. Reminds me of when I started for a teacher that retired - mid-year! I graduated in Dec and started in Jan. I went in over holiday break to clean out and organize the room. Same thing ~ the custodians were SO HAPPY to see all the junk leaving the room. Needless to say I got everything super organized and then got my dream job close to home at a brand new school so I left there after only half a year. It felt good to get an email from the new teacher thanking me for how I left the room.
    Kudos to the new teacher for keeping her spirits up! How lucky those kids are going to be to get a positive, enthusiastic teacher with some real art curriculum! Wish there was more 'cleaning house' going on in schools!

  6. I saw your comment on MPicasso's mentioned spraypainting the numbers or colors onto the you have any pictures of your tables? I am curious to see how they look as you have probably read, I am desperate to have the picking to stop!!!

  7. Oh my email is

  8. I can not believe that mess! Wow! It was so nice of you to help! I hope that teacher was fired and not off to a new district. Meanwhile, I just had my room slightly, I am also working to find ORDER! It is fun to find a better space to work! Keep your eyes on the PRIZE. Go, go girls! I will try to send good photos of my NEW space! Thanks for all that you share!

  9. Your blog entry is revelatory and I used your picture to illustrate my "messy" experience, my 2nd at this school, as the art teacher.

    I will copy my Facebook entry after spending a 1/2 day as an elementary school substitute art teacher. Always revealing and wonderfully creative.

    "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ... well, I needn't complete the phrase but I fell victim, again to the infamous ... "Can I paint a picture?" question in an elementary art room, where I subbed for a 1/2 day (going on a week) this Halloween afternoon.

    One cannot imagine, well, I can, because I just lived (barely) through it; the paint, paper, crayons, markers, and overall joyful mess that accumulates in minutes. Can it be controlled? Probably, but it takes a disciplined temperament that I do not possess.

    To assuage my guilt, I did spend time cleaning up afterward by looking for caps to markers and washing up the sink. The water bill at this school is not petite. It flowed consistently throughout the afternoon as children washed hands and brushes and cupfuls for paint application.

    My goodness, they had a great time."

    Thank you for all you've done for students over the year and for generously offering your visual acknowledgement of what engaged student work represents.

    Rudy ...