Piedmont College of Education Grad Uses Internship to Inspire Young Artists at Clarkesville Elementary
As part of her final internship, Piedmont University College of Education graduate Rebecca Murphy organized an art show for students at Clarkesville Elementary.
The project was a chance to teach students the value of hard work, to start them dreaming of a college education of their own, and for Murphy, an affirmation of her decision to start a new career as an educator.
“It was a lot of work putting on the show, but it was worth it,” said Murphy. “I felt like I really made an impact on their education. It gave me new confidence as an art teacher.”
Murphy was always artistically inclined, and from a young age, she wanted to become an art teacher, but as often happens in life, she put her passion aside in pursuit of career path that seemed more certain. For more than 30 years, she worked as an imaging technologist.
“Then I got laid off, and I started searching for new jobs in X-ray,” she said. “But I started asking myself, ‘Do I really want to do this again?’
“I decided that I wanted to go back to school, get my degree, and live my passion full time.”
Murphy, a Clarkesville resident, enrolled at Piedmont to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education. She graduated in May.
She spent the last several months of her education interning at Clarkesville Elementary, under the supervision of art teacher and Piedmont University adjunct instructor LaDonna Canup.
The idea for the art show emerged through Murphy’s interactions with the students.
“We were talking about art shows and how artists show their work. I asked the students what would happen if we had an art show,” Murphy said.
“They got so excited and said, ‘We’d do this,’ and ‘We’d do that.’”
Murphy couldn’t resist their enthusiasm. She got right to work.
The Clarkesville Elementary art show took place in late April at the Smith-Williams Art Studios on Piedmont’s Demorest campus. More than 150 people attended the event — including plenty of proud parents and grandparents.
In the weeks leading up to the show, Murphy worked closely with the students as they prepared their best submissions.
“It really inspired them to work on their craftsmanship,” Murphy said.
“They gave it their best. They asked a lot of questions, and they always wanted to know if what they were creating would be good enough for the art show. We noticed an increase in the quality of their work and in their presentation.”
The art show was open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade, but not everyone could have their work included. Murphy helped to curate the artwork for the exhibit.
The students enjoyed the competition, and even those who didn’t have their work selected, took away valuable lessons from the process.
“You have to be creative anywhere you work,” Murphy said.
Canup said it was gratifying to see Murphy grow as a teacher through the process of staging the show, and to see her realize the impact she can make as an educator.
“Rebecca gave the students something tangible. She helped them see that the art they make in the classroom can go much further, all the way to a college campus,” Canup said.
“She gave them an opportunity to shine. She made these students feel like superstars.”
Murphy will continue at Piedmont to earn her Master of Arts in Art Education.
Learn more about Piedmont’s College of Education at piedmont.edu/academics/education.