The coronavirus pandemic has created immense hurdles for art educators. Northwood-Kensett Community School District art instructor Emily Abbas deserves recognition for her commitment to art education and desire to continue to exercise her students’ creativity under extraordinary circumstances.
A year ago, Abbas could not have imagined all the struggles she would face this school year. Northwood-Kensett Community School District has opted for an in-person teaching model this year. COVID-19 protocols require students to wear masks in class and Abbas must sanitize all surfaces between classes. Additionally, this is Abbas’ first year teaching at Northwood-Kensett Community School District, which has been another obstacle.
“I am new to this district, so learning all new students in grades K-12 from behind masks has been a challenge,” Abbas said. “Nevertheless, I have been impressed with what the students have created.”
Abbas has been providing her students with the best art education possible despite the circumstances. However, limited art supplies is an ongoing issue.
“Students are not able to share supplies like they used to,” Abbas explained. “Supplies this year are more limited, because students each have their own set of materials.”
Abbas is utilizing an online art education platform called Artsonia.com — the world’s largest collection of online student art portfolios — to raise funds for the art room, share student art and maintain digital student art portfolios.
“The funds raised through Artsonia has helped provide emergency supplies,” Abbas said.
Artsonia helps thousands of teachers in over 100 countries worldwide reach students electronically while creating online student art portfolios. Parents and relatives can view the art online, leave comments and order keepsakes featuring the artwork. As part of its mission, Artsonia donates 20 percent of merchandise revenue directly back to local classrooms and has given back more than $11 million to local classrooms since 2000.
“Our mission at Artsonia is to bring communities together to celebrate children’s artistic expressions,” said Jim Meyers, CEO and co-founder of the company. “It has been amazing to watch teachers like Emily — who are passionate about the process of creating, recognizing and cherishing student art — persevere during a time when the arts are being vastly overlooked.”
Art education equips students with fundamental skills they need throughout their lives. It aids in the essential development of problem-solving skills, decision-making, motor skills, creativity, and cultural understanding. Abbas’ students have truly benefitted from her classes this school year.
“Students need an outlet,” Abbas said. “Art is the perfect place to explore all the chaos and the confusion in the world.”