May 24, 2021 - Wide eyes and big smiles tell the story of what happens when high school and elementary students collaborate.
Natalie Jones’ ninth-grade art class from Hill Country College Preparatory High School made a special delivery to Lynette Mathis’ kindergarten class at Arlon Seay Elementary earlier this month.
The art students hand delivered colorful plushies based on the imaginary friends or monsters that the kindergarten students illustrated. Each student in Mathis’ class, 10 in-person and nine remote learners, participated in this collaboration after reading Happy Monster’s Day by Joan Holub. They were excited to see their creations come to life.
“I wanted my students to have an opportunity to use their gift of artistic skills to bring a smile to someone else,” says Jones, who has been teaching art for 17 years, eight with Comal ISD. “I teach a textiles unit and knew it was the perfect time to sew a plushie.”
Jones is no stranger to collaborating with other teachers. In previous years, as the art teacher at Startzville Elementary, she worked with a colleague at Canyon Lake High School for a similar project.
“The impact it had on the students was memorable,” she says, “and I knew I would love to participate in something like it again.”
In fact, art students at CLHS continue to collaborate with elementary teachers on a similar project. This year, Kara Stracener, art teacher at CLHS, and her students created plushies for students at Rebecca Creek Elementary with art teacher Kim Long.
Jones encourages fellow educators to find ways to collaborate with one another and to get students involved.
“When you can bring students together across the community through academics and the arts, they are learning a valuable life lesson on giving back for the betterment of all,” she says. “The arts are gifts we all have, and our job is to share that gift with others. The power of art brings people together physically and emotionally.”
This particular collaboration was extra special, however, because Jones and Mathis are childhood friends. This is the first year the two worked together in the same district.
-Arlon Seay Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Lynette Mathis and her class are pictured with their plushies which were made by Hill Country College Preparatory students.
-Kindergarten Arlon Seay Elementary students from Lynette Mathis' class are pictured with Hill Country College Preparatory High School students.
-A sample of the plushies created by Hill Country College Preparatory High School students based on the illustrations of kindergarten students from Arlon Seay Elementary.
-Canyon Lake High School freshman Maureen Colligan created a plushie for a student from Rebecca Creek Elementary.
-A Canyon Lake High School student is pictured with the Rebecca Creek Elementary student for whom she created a plushie.
-A sample of plushies made by Canyon Lake High School art students for Rebecca Creek Elementary students.