GOLDEN - Lines, details and shading come together to create a portrait. The experience of meeting the subject and learning about their heritage creates a learning experience that goes beyond the art class.
For the last several years, Tim Miller, an art teacher at Golden High School, has created projects to get his students outside the walls of the classroom. In previous years he has taken students to the streets of Denver to interview and create portraits of the homeless.
His students have also visited with young patients at Children's Hospital Colorado to get a better understanding of their world.
This year, his students visited with Native American elders at the Denver Indian Center to hear their stories and gain an understanding of a culture other than their own.
"As a teacher I basically have one mission and that is student learning, and I'm just kind of taking that learning to another level," Miller said.
For several hours the art students talked one on one with Native American elders and heard their stories. The students asked questions and took notes that were turned into reflection papers.
"Diversity is a wonderful thing, giving, taking and sharing," says Bellerena Begaii, project manager of the Denver Indian Center.
After meeting with the elders and learning their stories, the students worked to create portraits to capture not only their likeness but also their personalities.
"You learned about the community more and who the people are," Golden High School senior Alec Dilorenzo said.
The portraits complete the students returned to Denver Indian Center to share their work with elders.
"You know my portrait is wonderful. I cannot wait to share it with my family," Begaii said. "I look at myself and say, 'yep, somebody sees me.' Somebody is going to know me and that is it."
The art project created a lasting impression for the elder and the students.
"Mr. Miller has this amazing ability to create projects that you walk away from and remember for the rest of your life," junior Katy Kiusalaas said.
Not surprisingly, this year Tim Miller was named the Colorado Art Teacher of the Year.
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