Lauri Jones is an elementary school art teacher. She believes that providing children the opportunity to create and engage with art is critical. “Art and image making are a language and are one of the first languages that children engage in. And when we don’t give the time, the respect, and the funding to the development of that language, we’re affecting their overall literacy.
Lauri Jones knew she wanted to be an artist when she was just a child. Although no one else in the family was an artist, Lauri’s mother was a talented seamstress and tried to teach her to sew, but Lauri was never interested. Today, Lauri teaches art to elementary school students at Westminster Schools in Atlanta and also derives much joy from creating her own art using fabric.
“I find it so satisfying and pleasurable to work with my hands. I do rust printing and stitching on fabric. My process is largely driven by curiosity. I allow myself to follow what intrigues me and what has the potential for surprise. Yet, I also really love the aspect of control and of pursuing a very specific outcome.”
The desire to teach evolved over time as Lauri pursued a career in print making, graphic design, and finally as an animator in motion media. “I was thinking about my life and the people who had impacted me. I thought about my high school art teachers who were so supportive and helped me understand what it was that I loved and what I could do. So I decided to teach.”
Lauri believes that providing children the opportunity to create and engage with art is critical. “Art and image making are a language and are one of the first languages that children engage in. And when we don’t give the time, the respect, and the funding to the development of that language, we’re affecting their overall literacy. The other piece is that the art room is a place where children have the ability to explore the range of possibilities and learn that there are lots of answers. Living in that world of ambiguity is great for our brains, our creativity, and our ability to solve problems. We’re not going to learn to solve difficult problems by learning the answers. We’re going to solve difficult problems by learning how to ask really good questions. The art room is a place where you can question, where it’s tolerated and strongly encouraged.”
Lauri also teaches a class outside of the art department called Design Thinking. In this class students are challenged to create a design or solve a problem for a user. That requires that students acquaint themselves with the user, define what the user’s needs are, solve for that user, and keep the user at the center of the design. “It’s definitely taking a very different point of view because you’re not solving for yourself you’re solving for someone else which is a super important thing to learn in life. No matter what you’re going to be, you have to have empathy for others. When we jump to conclusions and solutions based on our own experiences, we’re missing the opportunity to understand another person and what he/she needs.”