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Budget cuts force art teachers to be more creative

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

Art teachers are known for their creativity. So when budget constraints reduced options for the Georgetown County School District's artist-in-residence program, Waccamaw Intermediate School's art teacher, Christie Weaver, and her counterpart at Maryville Elementary school, Dianne Turnley, came up with a clever solution.

Rather than relying on a showcase by an outside artist, Turnley and Weaver collaborated to illustrate their own unique talents to county students.

Weaver visited Maryville Elementary in January – teaching clay pottery techniques – and, last week, Turnley shared her knowledge of basket weaving with Waccamaw Intermediate students.

The week-long sessions were a hit with students.

"It was all Dianne's idea," Weaver said. "She came up with a way to save money and also keep the [artist-in-residence] program. It makes sense as we have so many wonderful art teachers and they each have expertise in different areas.

"And the students had a blast. It was something outside their usual routine and they enjoyed it. When I finished at Maryville, all the students were asking when I was coming back. [My] students asked the same thing about Dianne when she was finishing her week here."

Turnley taught all fifth-grade art classes at Waccamaw Intermediate, working with more than 190 students during the week. Students learned the basics of basket weaving using reeds and stakes. They also learned how to dye the baskets when they were completed.

"I liked the classes," fifth-grader Dylan Howard said. "It's different from what we normally do."

"I learned as much as the students," Weaver said. "It's something I am going to add to my class. I talked with Dianne about what supplies I'll need and what vendors to use and I've already put that into the budget for next year."

Weaver said the class was beneficial for the community as well.

"We had a lot of parents and grandparents who volunteered to help," Weaver said. "They were having as much fun as the students. That is what you want the programs you offer to do."

Weaver said sharing techniques and learning strategies with Turnley outside of class was also beneficial.

"We exchanged a lot of ideas," Weaver said. "As art teachers, we don't always get that type of interaction with our [peers]. So it was nice to find out about what others are doing with their lessons and projects. There are some things I picked up that I can use in my plans."

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