GRANT, Alabama — Mrs. Zan Edmonds at DAR School in Grant has been teaching art for 29 years, but her love for art started years before, right in these same classroom walls.
"I went to school here, so my elementary art teacher kind of pulled me out of the crowd and started working with me and encouraged me, and it is all I ever did, so it comes natural to me," explains Zan Edmonds, the Valley's Top Teacher.
Now she is sharing her love of art with her students and finding where they excel, so she can help them grow as artists.
"If they are interested in acrylic paint, then let them go that direction," shares Mrs. Edmonds. "Or I may have one that likes to throw on the potter's wheel, and that is where their gift is, so I give them extra time.
"So if we are doing a painting, it doesn't just have to be like acrylic," says Lucy Whitaker, a sophomore art student. "Like I am making one right now with crayon wax, and acrylic, and cardboard. She doesn't limit us to one medium."
October is a month students look forward to because that is when they get to decorate a bra for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Mrs. Edmonds gives her kids many opportunities to display their work around town, school, and in competitions. But the Breast Cancer Awareness Project is close to many students' hearts.
"A lot of times they will do it in honor (of someone), and give it to them after the fact," says Mrs. Edmonds as she speaks of the project. "The kids look forward to it every year. It is one of my favorite projects and it is one of theirs too."
She always encourages her students to be themselves and she never holds back their creativity.
"You will notice some of the things going on in the world right now, I thought that was interesting," says Mrs. Edmonds, as she looks at the different bras on the wall. "As far as the politics, and the police, 'Protect the Tata's' and the 'Proud to Fight Breast Cancer.'"
For Mrs. Edmonds, teaching is much bigger than art. She has created a classroom that many kids call their "happy place." It is where kids feel they can relax and let their true colors shine through.
"I just really care about them. My kids call me Mama Edmonds most of the time, so they know I love them and I keep up with them," smiles Mrs. Edmonds from under her mask. "Even at college I get the messages and things back. I just want to be there for them, not just for art, but just as a role model."
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