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Art teaching insights from Jaime Hilaski

Schoolcraft’s Artists of the Week Oct. 10-14 included (clockwise from the top) Sienna Lego, Jason Rathburn, Caleb Aethyr, and Heidi Sheen .

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

An interview with Jaime Hilaski, Schoolcraft art teacher

Some background from Jaime: This is my 10th year teaching in Schoolcraft. I teach the following classes: 6th grade art, 7th grade art, at the High School level Art I, Art II, Portfolio, and Yearbook.  

How do you guide young artists?
I believe that students should be able to explore their own artistic style and voice. I try to give student choice in the medium and subject matter in many projects so students can make decisions based on interests, past experiences, and confidence levels. I believe the art room should be a safe space and my hope is that students find art as a way to relieve stress and find a new passion. 

What skills do you teach?
At the high school level, students are introduced to various mediums such as clay, graphite, colored pencil, acrylic and watercolor, charcoal, collage and sculpture. Within each of these mediums, students learn foundational skills to build their confidence so they can make choices throughout the year that encourage their own growth in a medium or technique. 

What do students enjoy most?  
I have found over the years students love anything with clay and papier mâché. They also enjoy printmaking by carving rubber blocks to create their designs. 

Have your students entered competitions?
We have been a part of the Vans Custom Culture Contest four times. This is an art competition where selected schools are given blank pairs of Vans shoes to design to specific themes. The last time we were in the competition we made top 50 out of 500 schools. I also have students participate in the KIA High School Area Show. 

What is the most rewarding part of teaching art?
It’s the relationships I build with my students. I have the luxury of being with many of them from 6th grade to their senior year. I get to see their growth and their successes. In the art room, students open up and share a lot of emotions and storytelling in their pieces. I feel lucky to be able to be here to support them in their journey.

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