Meet Sam Rausch, the newest addition to the Nasco Education Art Team! Sam joins Nasco Education as our resident Art Educator and Customer Engagement Manager. In her role, she’ll be helping connect art teachers to new tools and resources for their art rooms.
Sam’s background includes teaching in both a classroom environment as well as nontraditional community art spaces, including museums, libraries, adult day centers, parks, and galleries.
We recently sat down with Sam to hear her thoughts on art education today and learn some of her favorite tools for the classroom. Here’s what she had to say.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to have access to a quality visual arts education?
A: Accessibility to a quality visual arts education has tremendous positive effects for students of all ages. Art is an incredible tool for connecting with others, refining critical thinking skills, and making engaging connections to students’ personal worlds and the material in the art room.
Cross-curricular approaches in the art room also allow for deeper investigations and understanding in various subjects and have been known to increase test scores in core subjects like math and science. Students can also benefit from art’s ability to improve their social-emotional learning skills, mental health, and understanding of self. I believe art education has a critical role in our education system and students’ lives!
Q: What are some of the biggest opportunities facing art educators today?
A: Art educators’ biggest opportunities lie in their ability to have a powerful impact on their school communities and their communities at large.
Art educators have a unique pulse on their school communities — being a specialist, we sometimes teach every student in the school. That also means art teachers can gauge what art experiences their students might benefit from the most. You might focus on process-based art with classes struggling with confidence in their finished product or incorporate team building or STEAM activities for a class that really needs a break from the traditional art class experience. Or you might organize a student art show or a community art project that brings together students with members of the surrounding community.
Q: What are some of your favorite beginning-of-the-year art projects?
A: I love to start the year with grade-level or school-wide collaborations. Some of my favorites have been monochromatic self-portraits by grade levels to create a large rainbow mural and a Jen Stark-inspired interactive mural for my middle school students in which every student made a feather to contribute to the mural.
Q: What’s your best classroom behavior management tip?
A: No matter what your behavior management system is, consistency is key. For me that means being very consistent with a routine. Routines, routines, routines. I have the same basic format for art class every day that students can expect to follow, regardless of the art-making that day. We slowly add procedures for painting, clay, and so on when we get to that point in the school year. I find that when students know what to expect during art time, it limits a lot of behavior issues that may arise.
Q: What’s your best art room organization tip?
A: I am a lover of a big deep clean at the end of every school year. I know it’s the last thing we want to do at the end of the school year but going through my supplies and reorganizing them always frees up so much space for the following year to start fresh. Also, feel empowered to politely decline donated items you have no room for or use for to save space throughout the year!
Q: If you had $1,000 to spend for your art room, what would you buy with it?
A: If I was really splurging, I would get a couple of wall mounted drying racks to maximize space! I’d also try to squeeze in a nice set of classroom Royal Brush paint brushes, classroom set of Nasco Colored Pencils, Jack Richeson tempera cakes, classroom set of Prang watercolor pans, air dry clay, Sharpies, mixed media paper, Crayola markers — I could keep going!
Learn more about Sam’s top tools in her post, “Top 10 must-have art supplies every new art teacher needs.”