Hay was a graphic artist for five years when he started to feel burned out and realized he was not doing what he really liked.
His wife suggested teaching and after going back to school, Hay started teaching art at a Catholic school.
"I didn't have a lot of experience. I didn't know a lot. It was kind of jumping in and getting your feet wet," Hay said.
After his first year, he landed a job teaching at Coyote Hills Elementary School in Aurora, a new school at the time.
Hay got to build his art room from the ground up, ordering supplies and creating and drawing his own labels, hanging caricatures and even letting students paint ceiling tiles.
Five years later, his colleagues say he has a gift with the kids.
"Rob isn't afraid to get down on their level and explain things to them in their own terms and to allow them to make mistakes," Coyote Hills Elementary Music Teacher Paul Cribari said. "The way he incorporates humor and stories and imagination into his teaching, the kids are just drawn to him."
Hay says every child has an artist inside but many never have the opportunity to try different mediums at home to find their creative side.
"It is amazing at this level and that's why I love elementary. Everything is so new and different to them. Some of them come in and have never worked with clay," he said.
Hay says it is not so much how great the kids work is, but that they are trying, using their minds and being creative.
"I want them to come in, get their hands dirty and messy and have fun," Hay said.
Hay says the most rewarding part of his job is when students come back to visit. Some say they never took an art class again, but remember his class and the fun they had while others have been inspired to try for careers in art, design and teaching.
"That's what makes my day," Hay said.
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