Teacher seeks access for all to visual arts
A Union County teacher says he was looking for a way to increase access to the visual arts during a school year which is is unlike anything this country has ever seen before.
Josh Shearer is the art teacher for Anna Community Unit School District No. 37. Shearer says he is looking for a silver lining in the midst of a pandemic.
“Parents and teachers are using the internet in ways they have never imagined. There is little doubt that this is a struggle for students, parents and teachers,” Shearer said.
“The personal rapport required for educational success is very hard to establish through remote and hybrid learning models, and it is hard enough to be a parent in these uncertain times, let alone take on the role of teacher also,” he continued.
Now, Shearer says he sees an opportunity to increase access to visual art education throughout the region.
He started serving Illinois public schools as an art educator in 2006 as the art teacher for Century District No. 100 at Ullin.
In 2010, Shearer lost his position due to the state’s budget crisis.
At that point, Shearer said it became his mission “to make sure every student in our great state receives access to the magic, joy, and learning attained through art education.”
He started working for Anna District No. 37 in 2011. But, Shearer said, his students at Century “were always heavy on his heart. “
Shearer recalled the positive influence of having Nancy Murray as an art teacher and said that he knew the impact art education can have.
“Art is how we understand, interpret, and build culture,” he said.
“In a state with the greatest river system in the world, some of the richest farmland in the world, and one of the best cities in the world, there has to be enough resources to make sure every student has an art teacher.”
Shearer said he is always searching for solutions, not problems.
As Anna District No. 37 adopted a hybrid learning model to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, his instruction went virtual.
Shearer said he will be the first to tell you he never planned on managing a website, or creating instructional videos.
“It gives students an opportunity to see me struggle as I learn, and we are all learning together,” Josh says.
But the creation and publication of the online content for his students gave him the idea to share the curriculum with anyone who wanted it.
He said that every student who wants an art teacher can follow along in his remote learning plan. This is accessible to any student with the internet.
The curriculum is designed for 3rd through 8th grade students, but can be modified to suit any students needs. His website is updated daily.
To check out his website, visit anna37.com. From there select remote learning, then Josh Shearer.
If you want additional help or feedback, email Josh firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shearer invites everyone to consider adding their child, or children to his remote classroom. Shearer says he would “be thrilled to learn with them.”