My High School Art Teacher Changed My Life

High School… What a time. For some it was great, for others not so great and for many of us it is part of our teenaged experience. Blog #8 in my “40 Blogs in 40 Days about my first 40 Podcasts” is a story about my high school art teacher Mrs. Hendricks. She was a small and delicate elderly women. She taught pottery and ceramics in my first period art class my junior year at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, Indiana. I took her class for two years and to this day I still have a fond affinity for ceramics. I did it for a number of years during college and for many years after I graduated.

Now is a good time to share how much trouble I got into when I was in high school. I used to an angry young teenager. It may be hard to understand if you know me now. But back then I was a very confused and misunderstood about my one-handed life. I was very rebellious and not a fan of authority figures. I was the condition a lot of grief for my teachers and my parents. There were many occasions where I thought I would be expelled. After my sophomore year I had to make a formal request to the Dean of Students to be allowed back for my junior year. Despite being permitted to return I did not become a better student. I still was getting in a lot of trouble.

Even though my track record was not good I did excel in my art classes. I spent two years in an old school black and white film and photography class and two years in pottery and ceramics classes. I have been making art ever since I can remember. I have always had a creative overtone. I loved to make things and build things when I was young and I still do. My mother treasures and has kept these very small sculptures I made for her when I was in the first grade. In the second grade I made a fake camera out of an old Crayola Crayon Box. Being creative has always been a part of my life.

High school was a very interesting time. I was right on the edge of being expelled and at the same time I was excelling in my creative arts classes. In reflecting back on those years it was my art classes that truly helped me stabilize to the degree I could. I did not get much support in school in a lot of ways. Considering the kind of person I was I guess I can understand why. Nonetheless, a small amount of support can go a long way. A few kind words can make a hung difference in a person’s life. As much as I wanted to get that support and kind words from my coaches and certain teachers, I did not. But one day in high school those words and support arrived. I was on the edge of expulsion. After what occurred in my first period ceramics class I thought for sure I crossed the life. It was my high school art teacher, Mrs. Hendricks who said the right thing, in the right way, and just the right moment. She changed the course of my life.

I have had the great fortune of living my entire life as an artist and I have “made it work.” So much of this path goes back to that one moment with my high school art teacher. Many times I have debated giving up my life as an artist for all the reasons artists face. But then I hear the words of Mrs. Hendricks.

To hear the story of how my high school art teacher changed my life click and listen to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS024. Please feel free to share this blog or my podcast and I ask you to offer a comment with your opinion and feedback! Thanks!

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