NMAEA June 2019 Member Spotlight
By Steve Heil, Membership Chair
Art educators around the state marvel at the way Roswell Independent School District approaches elementary art education. Their teachers, like our member spotlight for the month, Kristie Jurney, focus on just one grade.
Kristie teaches 2nd grade art to nearly 900 students at 12 elementary schools across the district and thanks God for her job every day. After graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso 24 years ago, she started in special education and then taught kindergarten. She loved it, and stayed 13 years, but four years ago she began her current career as an art educator, and now she feels she gets
to be a real rock star for the kids. Her administrator, Abie Smith, NMAEA member in the Supervision Division, sees Kristie as a silent leader.
Kristie loves art and is interested in trying lots of new art activities. She just concluded a wildly successful thematic unit on birds. It began with studying birds by pop artist, James Rizzi, and continued with ambitious upside-down right-brain drawing exercises that inspired tremendous confidence among the students. “The birds they drew looked exactly like the pictures,” Kristie said. “You could tell it was a robin. You could tell it was an eagle. They looked at it and said, ‘OMG I can’t believe I did that!’” The unit on birds concluded with wet felting. At that point, Kristie reported, “Not a single one of the nearly 900 kids said, ‘I don’t know how to make a bird.’ They all had the confidence to do it.”
Kristie’s inspiration comes from looking carefully, researching artists, and studying what other art teachers are doing. She finds lots of ideas online and gets ideas from her colleagues at the RISD Creative Learning Center, who she says are always eager to share. Their camaraderie is enhanced, it seems, by the work they do together organizing community events at the museum, galleries, and public spaces. Each year Kristie is in charge of hanging new student artwork at the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center. She selects student art from the current year’s work, sends out invitations, frames the art, and hangs it in the hospital for a ritzy reception.
“It’s a huge thing to have their art up,” she adds, “to let them know that they are really good at what they do. It makes them beam with confidence. When I give them a letter that tells what the event is and they come into the gallery and the girls wear new dresses and shoes and boys have on ties, they are so proud. It makes them believe in themselves.”
Kristie draws her inspiration from the feedback she gets from her students, who are so excited to see her and thank her for bringing art lessons to them. Having taught in regular classrooms for many years, she knows how stressful school can be for both the students and their teachers. Now, however, she feels she can bring joy to the kids when she comes to their classroom.
Kristie also loves the NMAEA Fall conference as a source of fantastic ideas. It is clear that Kristie’s style of leadership is as a role model of enthusiasm and high energy.