PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. (KATV) — The pandemic is forcing educators to adapt and stretch the limits of their creativity. For those teaching hands-on subjects like art, engaging students learning online can be difficult.
"It is hard keeping your focus in two different places," Landmark Elementary School art teacher Kelly Emerson said.
In stressful times, Emerson said many turn to the arts as a source of comfort and strength. That's why she said connecting with her students is more important than ever.
"When a kid does something and is so proud of it, it’s worth every second of it," Emerson said.
Emerson is teaching about 80 students online and 150 in person. She said one of the biggest challenges is connecting with her online students.
"I think the biggest thing is to say their name and to look at them," she said. "For me, I ask them to show me their work and make some connection to that work for them and me."
Instead of teaching art in her typical room, Emerson wheels a mobile cart full of art supplies to different classrooms throughout the day.
"I personally think at this age art is all about exploration and play," she said. "So it’s harder when I’m worrying about somebody else’s space."
In September, Emerson was able to raise enough money through community donations and the THEA Foundation to purchase art supplies for her students at home.
"I want them to realize art isn’t really about the supplies," she said. "It’s more about just doing it and using whatever you have handy. You can make art out of anything."
As teachers continue to find ways to adapt, Emerson said she wants to thank her students' parents for also being willing to make changes.
"We appreciate you being willing to take the steps to help your child," she said. "They are trying, you’re trying, and it takes everybody to make it work."