Student artwork fills the halls and adorns the walls of Peninsula School District schools and district offices, bringing in bursts of color and fresh creativity from students grades kindergarten to 12.
Purdy Elementary joins fellow PSD schools in proudly featuring student artwork and has recently recognized another creative force in the school, art teacher Hannah Jay.
Jay, 54, was awarded the district’s Ellen Fay Award for academic excellence at the March 9 PSD Board of Director’s meeting. She was nominated for the honor by Purdy teachers for her support of coworkers and her unwavering dedication to students, which often brings her to work on evenings and weekends, said Kristi Rivera, principal of Purdy Elementary.
“She definitely adds a lot of color to our school (and) makes it very bright and cheery,” Rivera said. “She’s very committed to integrating the arts into learning.”
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(Hannah) definitely adds a lot of color to our school (and) makes it very bright and cheery. She’s very committed to integrating the arts into learning.
Kristi Rivera, principal of Purdy Elementary
A Fox Island resident, Jay began working at Purdy Elementary as a substitute teacher in November 2004, staying on to run the only elementary art department in the district.
“They have an art department here,” she said of Purdy. “Schools need art ... every child deserves the opportunity to develop their imagination.”
With 700 students in the school, the art department is supported by the district and Jay sees it as an essential part of both education and human development for her students.
“I just know that essentially they’re very good at heart,” Jay said of her students. “I really feel if kids are intact with their empathy and imagination, they won’t get involved in bullying.”
Providing students with a creative outlet and encouraging their imaginations is important to Jay, who comes from a creative family herself. Art also provides a place for success for those students who may not be as skilled in other school areas, such as academics or sports.
I like seeing children excited about what they’re creating. When you see kids doing art, they’re effusive about what they’re doing.
Hannah Jay, art teacher at Purdy Elementary
Jay also sees her students come alive when creating in her classroom, engaging in the projects in way that she doesn’t see when these same children play video games.
“I like seeing children excited about what they’re creating,” Jay said. “When you see kids doing art, they’re effusive about what they’re doing.”
Among the praise and nominations for Jay are several mentions of her dedication to her students, such as her participation in the school’s HUG program for students needing extra attention and supporting Purdy’s parent group.
“She always goes above and beyond for other people,” Rivera said.
That is actually my secret goal, to seduce (students) away from the dark side, from screen time. I do work really hard to make sure the students have a rich experience.
Encouraging the arts in schools is important to both Jay and Rivera as a way to engage students and introduce different subjects.
“I hope we can continue to fund the arts in schools,” Rivera said. “It helps our students be well rounded.”
Jay loves seeing her students continue to grow and explore as they move on to middle and high school within the district, and hopes their exposure to art in her classroom help steer them toward future creativity.
“That is actually my secret goal, to seduce them away from the dark side, from screen time,” she said, laughing. “I do work really hard to make sure the students have a rich experience.”