“It was kind of weird helping teachers learn,” Spring Woods High School (SWHS) sophomore and art club secretary Johanna St. Clair said. She and other students (some recent graduates) from her school’s art program recently spent the day teaching Spring Branch ISD art teachers how to make jewelry from copper plate and silver wire as part of the educators’ summer professional development.
“I was a little nervous at first,” St. Clair said. “But I liked seeing their cool designs.”
Under the direction of SWHS art Teacher Rebekah Tee, the students gained valuable, real-world experience in preparing for and teaching a lesson.
Haley Franco, a senior in the SWHS class of 2022 and the president of the art club, was also on hand to help with the jewelry making lessons. “It was cool because not a lot of people deal with chemicals for making jewelry,” she said. “It was an amazing opportunity to teach teachers.”
“They helped me learn to teach, and I helped them with their art,” SWHS 2021 graduate Yexith Flores said. She has been making jewelry for four years, and was instrumental in walking the teachers through the steps of sketching their designs, cutting and hammering a pattern into metal, cleaning the pieces after they were suspended in a chemical (ferric chloride) bath for 40 minutes, and using a blow torch to create a colorful patina.
See more photos from the art teachers' professional development day here.
Flores plans to attend Texas State University this fall to study art and secondary education with an eye on becoming an art teacher. She recently won medals in the Houston area (gold) and national (silver) NAACP ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) competitions. Flores worked for weeks with mentor/teacher Tee to prepare a presentation about her sculpture for the national competition judges in order to be selected as a silver medalist from among 92 sculpture art qualifiers. The honor includes a scholarship award and an iPad.
Like Flores, fellow 2021 SWHS graduate and art student Laura Paz also won a silver medal at the ACT-SO nationals. These two artists are the first national-level winners from Spring Branch ISD in this rigorous competition. Paz was mentored in preparing for her presentation for the judges by Avelina Holmes, the NAACP Houston Branch ACT-SO program chair.
“From the judges to the practices, it was amazing,” Paz said. “I didn't even consider the possibility to reach nationals, even less to reach second place which made me incredibly happy. I am truly thankful for Ms. Holmes' help and assistance every step of the way on this journey.”
At the awards ceremony of the Houston Branch winners, Tee was awarded an ACT-SO Ambassador award for the third year in a row for her support of SWHS art students.
“Ms. Rebecca Tee symbolizes the IGNITE theme of this years ACT-SO,” said Holmes. “She ignites, stimulates and excites her students to master their academics and artistry.”