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My Return as a Children’s Community Art Teacher in Alaska: Mallory Drover ’19

Home, sweet Homer.

I arrived in Homer, Alaska two weeks early for the summer quarter. Knowing that the quarter would only last five and a half weeks (07/08 – 08/14), I decided to be proactive and make the most of my time in the land of the midnight sun. 

On Tuesday, June 26th I met with Lynda Reed at her business, the Homer Art and Frame Co. It was the same day I arrived in Alaska. We discussed plans for my work as children’s community art teacher which included age groups, scheduling, curriculum, and supplies. I taught my first class on July 2nd, the following Monday.

Lynda’s shop has the widest selection of art supplies in Homer. At the back of the Homer Art and Frame is a classroom where Lynda hosts various art classes each week. The mission of the Homer Art and Frame “is to support the artistic endeavors of our community by offering a wide array of art supplies for the novice, student or professional, and to provide art instruction that unleashes the creative spirit in all of us.” 

By the time the quarter officially began I had already established my curriculum schedule and taught four art lessons in Lynda’s classroom over two weeks. On Mondays from 2pm-3:30pm I teach children ages five to eight years old. At the same time on Tuesdays I teach children ages nine to twelve. Below is the schedule I constructed with Lynda for the seven weeks of my classes.

Credit to Lynda Reed for this official advertisement of my children’s art classes, taken from Homer Art and Frame Co.’s schedule page.

This is not the first time that Lynda has hosted me as a teacher in her store. My first foray as a children’s art teacher in Homer occurred during my third co-op in the fall quarter of 2017 (08/05/17 – 12/22/17). The original plan for my third co-op had to be changed at the last minute due to illness. I caught pneumonia in August of 2017, and still hadn’t recovered two months later as the start date of my third co-op approached. Instead of staying in Yellow Springs, I decided to return home to Alaska for my co-op. My priorities were to rest, heal, and breathe plenty of the clean ocean air. However, the abrupt change of plans meant that I was scrambling for work as the quarter began. On the first Friday of October I was introduced to Lynda by an old friend from Ptarmagin Arts, the cooperative owned art gallery of which I used to be a member, while attending the various art shows around town. It was suggested that I could teach a few holiday art classes for kids through the Homer Art and Frame Co. Lynda and I exchanged information, and she explained that she’d found a shortage of community art teachers interested in working with children. Lynda helped me plan a series of eight weekly classes titled “Kids Crafting With Magical Mallory.” The experience was a great success. I was approached regularly by community members asking about the classes and informing me of positive feedback from parents and their kids. One of my favorite moments during these classes was on December 14th when my students asked me whether I’d be teaching more classes in January after the holidays. I explained that I would have to return to my college in Ohio, and the room filled with groans and boos of dismay. I was asked the same question by two different parents as they picked up their kids that day, and met with similar disappointment that I wouldn’t be around in January. 

Photo credit to Lynda Reed, both taken on 11/16/17 while I taught in the classroom of the Homer Art and Frame Co.

 

I suppose it should be no surprise that working with children has come so easily to me given my first co-op with the YSCCC, which also included elements of art and teaching. The teaching work in my third co-op lead to good opportunities for my fourth co-op, including an established environment and a base of return students. I was able to expand from teaching one wide age range to two narrower ranges, which enabled me to develop curriculum which better targeted the abilities of each. While the classes I taught in my third co-op were comprised mostly of three-dimensional arts and crafts activities, my lessons this co-op have been based in two-dimensional concepts used for drawing and painting. I’m especially excited to work with the older group on drawing perspective over the next couple of weeks.

Many people have been asking me what I plan to do after I graduate from Antioch College. My answer always begins with a hesitation and a stutter, but as I look back now I realize that I’ve navigated toward work with children in three out of my four co-ops. I’m still certain that a full-time teaching position is not what I want for myself in the long run, even teaching art. However, it seems that work with children will be a natural part of my future.

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Mallory Drover grew up in Talkeetna, Alaska, a village with a population of about 900 and a cat named Stubbs for mayor. As a teenager Mallory moved to the halibut fishing capitol of the world, Homer, Alaska. Mallory attended the Kenai Peninsula College in Homer, where she served a term as the Student Association president. While going to college in Alaska, Mallory worked for three years as a care provider for individuals with developmental disabilities, and volunteered in the summers for the local fire department as an EMT-1. Mallory has always had a passion for art and out-of-the-box creativity. She has worked in a number of art galleries in Alaska over the years, including Ptarmigan Arts and Brown Bear Products in Homer. Mallory transferred to Antioch College in fall of 2015, where she joined her little sister. Mallory and her sister, Tabitha live off campus in a house together with one other Antiochian, three dogs, and two cats. She likes to refer to her life as "one big wacky sitcom."

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