Two Hobbton High School teachers recently received grants from the Simple Gifts Fund, and despite the provider’s name, these grants are anything but simple to these Hobbton teachers and their students.
For five years, Hobbton High School alum and now art teacher Jennifer Jackson applied for field trip grants but never secured one. This year, her hard work finally paid off. She wrote a proposal titled “What is Art?…Where can it take me?” and submitted it to Simple Gifts. She later received the exciting news that she was being awarded one of their coveted grants.
The first field trip the grant funded for Jackson and her art students was a visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.
“I’m so glad the kids were able to go to the art museum because we look at pictures in books of famous works of art and I talk about it with them in class, but they don’t have that real hands-on, in-person experience,” explained Jackson. “It was great that so many artists we had already studied were represented at the art museum. It really solidified what we had been talking about in class.”
Thirty-seven of Jackson’s art students participated in the field trip and had nothing but wonderful things to say as they reflected on the experience.
“I really liked the butterfly airplane, the art work in the lobby,” said Nicoles Bryant. “It was made up of pictures of famous people in history.”
Jacob McCaully was drawn to “Vampire II,” a print by Edvard Munch. “It just looked good to me. I liked that it was a print; it was simple.” McCaully also explained that the woman in the print had really long hair, a characteristic in many Munch prints. “He thought of women as seductresses and used their long hair in his art to represent that,” added Jackson.
Megan Giddens was excited to see her favorite artist represented in the art museum’s permanent collection. “I really liked the Elvis picture they had by Andy Warhol.” Giddens added, “I’m doing my senior project on Andy Warhol. I just like his use of bright colors.”
Another popular artist among the Hobbton art students is Frida Kahlo. “I like the way she expressed herself through her paintings. She showed her emotions in her art,” said Roselia Pascual. “They are fascinated with Frida Kahlo’s life story and how it is represented in her art,” noted Jackson.
The trip wasn’t all about viewing famous works of art, however. It also gave the students an opportunity to understand that art could be a career option for them. “I liked that they [the art museum staff] shared with us how we could have an art career right here in North Carolina,” said Lexie Cook.
“As Hobbton’s art teacher, I like bridging the gap between here and the world outside,” said Jackson. “I want them to know that it is possible to have a future in art. If you like game designing, for example, you can really do that. I just want them to know there’s more out there.”
A big “thank you” sounded throughout the room when Jackson asked if they wished to say anything else about the field trip and the grant that made it possible.”It was inspiring for us,” added Selena Ibarra.
The inspiration is set to continue. Jackson’s Simple Gifts grant will also be funding another field trip in March to Greenville. “We’ll be going to East Carolina University’s College of Art and Design for a tour, and we’re also going to see the Greenville Museum of Art,” said Jackson.
“I’m really glad we get to take another trip in March, one to a college campus. I tell many of my students that they’re so good in art and should think about art school,” said Jackson. “I think seeing ECU and what it and other colleges like it have to offer will spark some real interest in my students.”
Along with Jackson, Hobbton High School technology teacher Richard Warren also received a Simple Gifts grant. His grant is being used to fund an after school robotics program.
“We’ve got 14 students signed up for the program right now, but we’re hoping to recruit more,” said Warren. “We’ve only been meeting for a few weeks now on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So far, we’re just working on the intro robot but we’ve got two others waiting to be unpacked.”
Warren explained that the robotics program is part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education program, and that working with robotics brings a lot of skills together for students. “It involves mechanical skills to put it together and computer programming skills to make it work. Students also use the science and math skills they learn in the classroom.”
“We’re the only school in the county to offer this program, and I think it’s really a great thing for the students because many people entering the workforce will be working with robotics of some kind. It can definitely lead to a lifelong interest and career,” added Warren.
Warren’s students agree with his views of the program. “For me, it is quite a fun a hobby and is very educational. I like working with the electrical devices and seeing how it all functions together; it is so customizable and very interesting,” says Byron Martinez who plans on becoming an electrical engineer.
The robotics program also helps student learn how to work together toward a common goal. “I really like working with my friends, working as a team,” adds Andre Cepeda who wants to be an architect.
“Our long term goal is to eventually have a robotics class in the curriculum,” notes Warren.
Clearly, the Simple Gifts grants are having a positive effect right away, funding exciting new trips and programs at Hobbton. However, it does not end there. What these grants have started, teachers and students will carry on during the rest of their time at Hobbton and beyond.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.