When is a gym not a gym?
At Hillsboro Elementary School, it was Monday, when art teacher Heather Corby transformed the gym into a lively and colorful art gallery displaying a year’s worth of her students’ talent and creativity.
“She’s never done this before,” Principal Evan Yoder said. “She put all of this together from the start of the year. I don’t want to say we’ve never done it before, but Heather took this thing on and it’s her baby.”
Tall prism-shaped towers decorated with children’s art were scattered among tables displaying three-dimensional works, drawings, and paintings. Videos of children creating their masterpieces played in one corner of the makeshift gallery.
“It’s neat to have art on display like this,” Yoder said. “We didn’t really have a vehicle to do it, but she just got it done.”
Corby said it took a while for children to build enthusiasm about the show.
“They weren’t excited at the beginning because they didn’t understand what it was,” she said. “I had to keep talking about it all the time.”
Some children were confused when they didn’t get an art project back, Corby said, but they were fine once they understood she was saving them for the festival.
Casual observers might have missed that Corby worked on teaching technical aspects of art through her projects.
“There’s a project that has texture, there’s a project that has line; each of these projects actually has something to do with elements of art,” she said.
Some projects, Corby said, coordinated with things children were studying in other parts of the curriculum.
“Especially with the planets that are over there,” Corby said, glancing toward a row of colorful spheres. “One of the teachers came and said, ‘Hey, we’re working on planets, is there something you can do?’ So I had the students make the planets, and in computer lab they actually wrote the brochures about them.”
The reactions of children when they got their first look at the display made all the work worth it.
“All day all I kept hearing was ‘Oh my!’” Corby said. “It’s been great. They’ve done a great job of doing what I’ve asked of them, and they all turned out to be wonderful.”
Yoder said the response from adults at an afternoon open house was equally enthusiastic.
“We had a great turnout,” he said. “I was so impressed with how many people showed up.”
Yoder said that this was a one-time event for Corby.
“I hope it will be an annual thing, but she won’t be doing it, because she’s going to be a fourth-grade teacher next year,” he said.
However, Corby doesn’t want to step away from the festival entirely.
“I’ll have to help the new one out,” she said.