My stepfather is a devoted and creative teacher at Yacolt Primary School in Yacolt, Washington. I went to school there, in the tiny town where my friends and I rode bikes to buy ice cream ~ and played in the woods ceaselessly. Some of my favorite memories revolve around that tiny town…

From my stepfather’s creative impulses, in 2007, sprung a student-made mural ~ a fail-proof way for children to incorporate their art into their school, without the chaos of 60 children huddled around a mural with brushes and cups of paint… scary.

The children at Yacolt Primary School watch salmon grow in an indoor aquarium ~ a science lesson ~ and an inspiration to create a true school of salmon ~ cascading over the walls of the communal area between the classrooms ~ the “pod”.

Throughout my life, those close have redeemed the value of having artists in the family ~ my three siblings and I have all followed an artistic path ~ and we have been blessed with many opportunities to use our art to please and entertain while helping those we love.

(Yacolt Primary still utilizes a big wooden “Choices” wheel that I painted… urk! too many years ago to count!) Believe it or not it hangs in the main entrance of the school, and while it facilitates children in coming up with a good choice for how to deal with conflict, it brought back many memories for me ~ struggling with paint and skin tones, when I was just a young gun. Seriously, despite the threads of embarrassment, I’m honored to see it hanging there.

Earlier this year, my 5-year old and I painted one of the many wooden salmon that my stepfather jigged with his saw, as a donation for the school ~ a little piece of us that we could set free onto the walls of the pod ~ a bit of me that can live in my past forever. You can see our painted fish here.

Last week my brother (and great friend and painter ~ in from Sweden!) Kevin Conrad and I had the opportunity to oversee and facilitate with my stepfather as the 20 chosen 2011 Fourth Graders painted and completed their salmon.

Kevin painted a fish, too (above).

My little boys (my littlest shows his newest creation, above) came along and wowed with their ability to sit and quietly paint for 2 1/2 hours (I wasn’t surprised, only proud) ~ my littlest one felt proud enough to walk his fish around a bit, showing the older children.

Watching these 9 & 10 year old kids paint and finding inspiration in their freedom and lack of baggage was wonderful. Encouraging them and finding tiny teachable moments within the moments of paint and markers on wood was heart-warming. Many of them have such potential and I relish the fact that so many of them realize their potential ~ with confidence and spark. I sent off silent hopes for them to remain in grasp of this confidence and creativity. And encouraged a few to keep going and keep drawing ~ to not let others “scare” it out of them.

In truth, that is one of my biggest and only fears for public schooling ~ at least at our top notch school ~ is that creativity, intuition and spark might be less than honored and nurtured.

The finished fish were great ~ and they soon joined (within a few days) their friends painted by students-past within the great school of fish ~ on the walls of the pod.


The Free Cards Winner for last week is Rose! Thanks for playing!

Have a great week,

Love & Sincerely, Katie