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Voices for Any Given Child Indy: The Arts Give Students a Voice

Shannon Lauffer Any Given Child Indy Creative Engagement Committee Member Art Teacher, William McKinkley School 39

Shannon Lauffer
Any Given Child Indy Creative Engagement Committee Member and Art Teacher, William McKinkley School 39

Any Given Child Indy will give my students a voice. Art sparks a light in children, and allows them to celebrate their individuality while they embrace differences. This unites us in a common language. Art lets students take risks, come to different answers to the same problem, embrace innovation, and view the world through the eyes of others. Our children will build, create, express, and connect skills that will enhance their future both personally and professionally. Any Given Child Indy will bring this opportunity to our students through a united and diverse endeavor of the arts.

As a teacher, I know that my visual arts class may be the one place many children are willing–or able–to express themselves. It is sometimes the reason they choose to come to school in the morning. I watch my students’ eyes light up when we pull out paints, and their creativity soars through sculpture, printing, and design. Students who speak no English are able to communicate through drawings. They grow in confidence. Through art, my students are learning math and science, exploring history, and engaging in visual literacy. While they may not go on to be artists, a high-quality arts education will drive their future success.

Although I chose to share my love of the arts by becoming a visual arts teacher, my passion is deeply rooted in my upbringing. I am the daughter of musicians, and my four grandparents were artists as well–a watercolorist, a photographer, a pianist, and a dancer. Some may say the arts are an innate part of me, but my parents ensured I was surrounded by the arts from the very beginning. Before I could walk, I was attending (albeit sleeping through) community operas, and my childhood was busy with violin lessons, art classes, music camps, handbell choirs, dance recitals, and orchestras. Through a variety of outlets, I was immersed in the arts and what were once my hobbies became a way of life.

Through teaching, I am able to share my passion with my students and our school community. My childhood exposure to the arts was an incredible privilege, and I hope to pass on a love of art to each student who enters my classroom. In career life, I have taught a variety of ages in several districts, and a recent move from New Jersey brought me to my current job teaching art at IPS school William McKinley. There is so much potential within Indianapolis, so much opportunity, and I am committed to finding creative ways to immerse my students in meaningful art experiences. It is a critical time in our schools, and I am honored to work in a city that is placing value on the arts.

In my school, I am working to create a culture where our students can engage in art regardless of the resources we have. To improve what is minimal, a concerted effort must be made that is bigger than one classroom, bigger than one school, and bigger than one art. There are big steps to take before our children are provided equitable access to the arts. It is my belief that Any Given Child Indy can be a direct path to envisioning a more beautiful world, where I am aligned with others who share my vision of high-quality arts education and the consequent benefits.

About the Author
Shannon Lauffer is an art teacher in Indianapolis Public Schools at William McKinley School #39. She has taught art and special education for 9 years to students from Pre-K through 12th grade, and is an instructor for The Art of Education. Her students are her favorite artists.  


AGCVoices

Voices for Any Given Child Indy is an initiative that gives leaders in the Indianapolis community the opportunity to focus on issues in arts education and in the community, as well as their personal investment in the success of Any Given Child Indy. Be on the look out for new posts from community leaders on anygivenchildindy.org.

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