Local teacher talks about her love for arts and education | News, Sports, Jobs
BEECH CREEK – They say if you do something you love you won’t work a day in your life.
Such is the case with local art teacher Jennifer Wilson – aka local artist JE Crum.
Wilson has been a teacher in schools both nationally and internationally for the past 20 years. Currently, Wilson is a teacher at Mill Hall Elementary and Central Mountain Middle School.
She has a master’s degree in Art Education and Research from the Maryland Institute College of Art, a bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Kutztown University, completed numerous art courses at Mississippi University, and spent a summer painting and drawing in Aix-en -Provence to study, France.
Like many high schoolers, Wilson had no idea what she wanted to do with her future. She chose the military and joined the United States Air Force.
Stationed on a small base in Mississippi, Wilson began working as a medical records technician in the field of medical administration.
“I’ve always been a sociable person” Wilson commented: “and in the chow hall, i quickly made friends with the workers.”
Through one of these friendships, she discovered her passion for teaching children and creating art. To earn some extra money, she began babysitting two little boys on Sundays.
Wilson painted and drew with the boys every Sunday and found himself happier in the days that followed. Painting with the kids and having time to make art with them was what she said inspired her to attend an art education school.
Later, Wilson found a small liberal arts college with an arts education program, where she stayed for three years before transferring to Kutztown University to earn her degree.
She got her first teaching job at James T. Craik Elementary School in Maryland and from there moved to Beech Creek where she taught at Liberty-Curtin, Renovo, Lamar, Sugar Valley, Robb, Mill Hall and Woodward.
Wilson remarked “I remember my dad used to say this wonderful thing. In this life you will have to work. If you find a job you like, great. But if you find a job you love, you’ve got it. I consider myself lucky to have found my calling and inspiration so early in life.”
During the first wave of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson made a post on her Facebook page about free art supplies outside of her home for any family that wants to pick them up for their kids. She received numerous pictures of happy children and parents showing the artworks made with the materials. In addition to contributing to the community, she volunteered at Orviston Church to bring free meals to children ages 1 to 18 in Monument and Orviston.
Wilson took her love of teaching online and launched a YouTube channel under her full name (Jennifer Crum-Wilson) during the pandemic entitled “The creative zone.” Because of this, Wilson began live streaming herself from her home studio and teaching art classes to her students, hoping to keep them entertained during quarantine.
She chose YouTube to share fun art activities with her students and any parents who might be able to watch her live streams. Her videos range from demonstrating art techniques that students can use as guides “how one” Videos on how to create your own masterpieces for kids of all ages and skill levels. She noted that she hopes to make more videos in the future.
“My goal is to bring a positive attitude to the classroom and teach children to love art.” Wilson said and mentioned that she wants to make art enjoyable for everyone in the classroom, regardless of their minds.
Wilson recently took an educational sabbatical and returned to school to further improve her artistic and teaching skills and to learn new techniques that she would like to replicate in her classroom. Now that she’s teaching middle school, she wanted to step back and reflect on everything she’s done and figure out how to put more energy into artistic practices.
During this sabbatical, she took six multi-medium art education courses to breathe new life into the art she will be teaching her students in the upcoming school year. It was a bittersweet break for Wilson.
“It was a very quiet year, with not all my students teaching, and I found myself missing the classroom more and more.” She said. She’s looking forward to being back in the classroom and sharing new artistic tricks she’s learned.
“You never stop learning. Art can be so personal and you can really get to know your students.” She said. “I love that you get to know their personalities and see them grow over the years.”
Despite the fact that her art has been featured in numerous shows, Wilson emphasized the fact that she considers herself a teacher before an artist and that she is “The best art is to inspire children.”
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