The other day I had a conversation with a public school teacher who made a very interesting observation. One of her students had a self- realization and a light bulb went on for her. Her student made a sudden, conscious decision to try, to care, and to set goals for herself. The teacher called it “flipping the switch,” and said “I hope I can motivate my students enough so they will all flip the switch.” This experienced, caring teacher wants all of her students to succeed in the classroom and as well as in life.
I know this revelation has happened to all of us at one time or another, where we decide, “enough is enough, I can do better.” It happened to me in the eighth grade, when I faced my fear of public speaking and shyness around people. I am not completely over it. I have relapses once in a while, because basically, I’m a shy person. But I have discovered that the mere fact that a person makes the decision “to flip the switch” and makes a conscience effort to change, the world opens up, and they see things differently.
The ARTree has seen this first hand with students that lack the confidence to explore without any boundaries. By boundaries, I don’t mean boundaries of classroom, but boundaries students seem to place on their abilities. These are self- imposed boundaries.
Our instructors are encouraged to spend time developing art projects. They then give the student instruction on the materials they use and how they work.
Then comes the fun part. Student are set free to explore the materials and different methods of working.
Our instructors have witnessed first -hand some beautiful transformations. Students of all ages building confidence and yes, they have even “Flipped the Switch.”
The ARTree offers many opportunities for “flipping the switch”.
Our instructors try to set the children up for success in every single project.
The ARTree Community Arts Center
A few days ago my son invited me to go to a movie with him, we were both in a playful mood and were razzing each other about different things. Although we are similar, he’s “hipper” than I am, as he makes clear by his funny comments about how I dress.
I keep telling him I dress age-appropriate, as I’m usually in jeans and a simple shirt. Sometimes, I wear hand-me-downs from his closet, and of course, a hat to cover my bald spot. He dresses in layers of clothes, with scarves, vests, jackets, cool hats and usually the latest shoes.Yes, he’s a metro kind of guy!
As we start our way to the theatre, I begin scuffling around for an old movie pass that I had from months ago. I finally found it deep in my back pocket, and it’s worn out, with print that is almost unreadable.
He looked at me and the movie pass, saw the long line at the theatre, and said, “Don’t worry Dad, I got it”. I said “We’re going to miss the beginning of the movie.” Then he got out his iPhone, paid for the movie on this device, had it scanned by the ticket taker and voala, done! I looked at him with my mouth wide-open. He laughs, and says, “It’s the latest app, Dad.”
My son also asked me to sneak some snacks into the theater (as many people do) and, to put them in my jacket pocket. Of course, I did exactly as he asked.
We entered the theatre and sat in our comfortable high back chairs I got out my humble discount water from Ralphs and potato chips, he got out a package of a seaweed snack, and a square bottle of Fiji water that must have cost double of mine.
I use my seat’s round cup holder with no problem, but his square bottle would not fit in the round cup holder. “There’s a price to pay for trying to be too hip,” I told him. We laughed and enjoyed the movie, agreeing that it was a good film. So much for our differences.
I related all that to say this. We live in a world that is filled with diversity, the hip and the not so hip, the shy and the popular in school.
The ARTree understands and embraces the differences in all of us, including those that that may be outcast in school, but flourish in the arts.
These students that may not always fit in, but should be encouraged to be themselves and to reach beyond their potential with their talents. There is no limit to the human spirit.
Community Arts Center
It’s always nice to look back on one’s life to find the important momentswhen something, or someone, had an impact. In fact, such a moment can sometimes be so inspirational that it can change your life forever. Looking back on my life as a child, I remember how I admired my older brothers and wanted to play football like one, or be an artist like the other. They both excelled at what they worked at and I did everything I could to be like them. I would watch their every move and tried to emulate them.
I admired and respected everything about them and, at times, felt pressure to match their success. I found this very healthy in my own life, but also understood how it can sometimes hinder goals and aspirations.
As I grew, got married, and had children of my own, I found myself being the mentor to my own growing family. But I also enjoyed the moments that I would learn from my kids. My wife sometimes called me her third child, because I liked to be part of the gang. They soaked in my input and I would learn from their carefree world.
Even today, 30 years later, my children teach me about new things in this world of technology, even though I am fully convinced that I am so far behind I willl never catch up. There are times when I can be a full-fledged dad, and times I like hanging on to some childlike qualities and become a kid again. Childhood is a special time, a time to be cherished. These fun times are important because they are the basis of that child’s memories as they grow into adulthood.It never ceases to amaze me how much our young students teach us.I know, as an artist, I can appreciate children that are totally free in their creativity, and able to effortlessly put together a picture that is both beautiful and delivers a message. The innocence of a child is a wonderful thing.
That is why The ARTree tries to nurture this wonderful quality in every activity we present. Encouraging young talent brings confidence in other aspects of the young person’s life that they would normally not get in other environments. We try to create a special place that they can come and be totally free.
Bob Hernandez President
The ARTree community arts center