“Today’s a messy day,” Sherry Elliott says as she pushes her mobile art station into a classroom. She pulls out large trays and different bowls filled with paint for each student. Each paint bowl has a different item inside to teach the students about texture and patterns. Sherry places one of the trays in front of a student who picks the green paint and spiky ball. She helps the student place the ball on paper plates and shake the tray to create the design. After class, Sherry waits for the painted plates to dry, then cuts them into bird shapes for Hayes-Inman Education Center’s Spring Musical.
This is Sherry Elliott’s first year as an adaptive art teacher at Haynes-Inman Education Center, Herbin-Metz Education Center, Gateway Education Center, and CJ Green Education Center. She has always been an educator, so she was excited when given the opportunity to teach art in Guilford County Schools. Sherry has an undeniable passion for teaching and her students. She remembers all her students’ names and makes sure that she has a special surprise for each student.
When preparing her lessons, Sherry thinks about what skill she is trying to teach that week. Because she works primarily with students with significant disabilities, she plans her art projects around those needs. Sherry spends her time reading and researching activities that help refine motor skills while providing positive art experiences for her students. She coordinates her lessons with the librarian and music teacher to ensure the students have a well-rounded curriculum.
“It’s about giving the students choices,” she says. Sherry alternates “messy days” with other activities to give each student an option how they learn. She works one-on-one with each student, allowing them to pick colors, shapes, fabrics, and other design elements for each project. She then adjusts the project to meet the different ages and abilities of each student; for students who aren’t able to use the paint buckets, Sherry brought paint pens so they can still participate.
“I want them to be proud of their work,” Sherry says when asked about the different art displays in the hall. “I don’t want to correct the art. I just add the touches a student might not be able to do independently.” Last fall, Sherry taped designs on pieces of paper for the students to draw around; when the paint dried, she peeled up the tape revealing a beautiful tree outline with the students’ designs.
Her creativity and compassion extend beyond the limits of the school day. Outside of the classroom, Sherry spends her time drawing and illustrating children’s books. Her love for art and her students is clear to everyone around her. Thank you, Sherry, for being an inspiration to all.