Teacher Appreciation

“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.
One hundred years from now the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child.  Teachers are the heart of learning.”
~ early 1900’s sentiment

With September upon us and back to school for many, I wanted to take a few moments to thank a teacher who has had a lasting effect on my adult life.  To understand the impact of my experiences, it might help to know that college was an off and on thing for me.  Marriage and children came early and my twenties were a whirlwind of family responsibilities.  When I rediscovered college in my thirties, I first began taking one night class a semester picking courses that inspired me. Later the goal of a degree took hold and when windows of opportunity opened, I took more classes.  What I was learning:  “Believing that I had the ability.  Believing I could accomplish this goal.  Believing in self-discipline.” 

Enter Professor Judith Bell.    The school year was 1994-95 and I had finally transferred to the State University as an upper division Junior, Art Major, and during this year I took two Painting Critique classes and one Independent Study Art Teaching course with Professor Bell.  Writing about art – content, context and purpose – was the focus of her critique classes.    Writing an opening statement, closing statement, three reports on my work, reflective comments on other students work, guest speakers work, field trip artists and gallery reports.   We only painted in class the first two weeks and then we were expected to work at home and bring in fresh, new work for critique sessions.  

During this year,  my mind was like a sponge, soaking up new ideas, digging deeper into my imagination, emotions, and I produced some of my best, most socially charged, most intellectual art during this fertile time in my life.  The environment was fertile.   And I needed to grow. 
FYI:  Most of this art, I have not shared on Wings Of Wonder, but that’s a different story.

Professor Bell said, “Write your own history.  Write about your work: the who, what, when, where and why.   Write your philosophy, issues, goals, methods, problems, references, motivations, contemporary and historical context.”  She encouraged with words:  expand your imagination, go beyond the obvious.  She asked questions and expected us to ask our own questions.  “What is strong and positive about your work?  Are you intellectualizing or letting your emotions out?  Did you push beyond the limits of your materials, subject, techniques?  What are your intentions?”  And, Professor Bell talked about the continuous process of reinventing yourself…let it fall apart, pick up the pieces…a painful process as you put it back together but your work will be stronger. 

I did dig deep into my life experiences and I produced a painting which, at that time,  I titled 16 Weeks.  Some of Professor Bell’s comments included:  “powerful, technically successful, political arena, emotional, dancing around issue, be careful, this art could be manipulated by someone’s agenda which could be different than yours, know your reasons.”

Thank you Professor Judith Bell.   My eyes were opened to a much broader world.  My work took on deeper depth.   And I developed the habit of keeping Artist’s Notes and began a memoir outline of my creative journey.  Someday I may pull this material together and write the book.

This year, 1994-95 was only a chapter of that journey.  At the end of the year, the window of opportunity closed and I had to take a leave from college.  Work and family and medical challenges again were at the forefront of my life.  The next window, to come back and finish my senior year, did not open up until 2001 but that’s a different story.  But, the seeds for that burst of educational energy were planted during the year of Professor Bell. 





About Wings of Wonder

Linda Ruddy is a creative with a diverse range of interests in writing and painting. She currently is revising a middle grade novel, and author and illustrating a picture story book. She is an active member of SCBWI, Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. Linda has a body of paintings, which form the foundation of her artistic development. This work can be viewed on her website: www.lindaruddyart.com Her recent illustrations are an outgrowth of the style she developed in these paintings. Another passion is sculpture. Linda often uses her figures as models for her art. Linda's blog is eclectic and journeys wherever her muse guides her attention. Her blog address is: www.wingsofwonder.wordpress.com Following the muse, Linda Ruddy
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9 Responses to Teacher Appreciation

  1. How wonderful to have a teacher and mentor who helped you grow in your art and challenged you at the same time! 🙂

    I love your quote: “A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart. One hundred years from now the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child. Teachers are the heart of learning.”

    Unfortunately, a lot of people never had a teacher that cared that much and left such a good impression. I know many people who were soured to learning because of incompetent, selfish, and downright horrible teachers. Like you, I was lucky to have many memorable teachers growing up and can’t really pick just one who influenced me the most. I think it was that combination of them that inspired me to want to work with kids, to aspire to be as inspirational as they had been to me. I’ll bet, some day, YOU will also be an inspiration to other artists as a result of what Professor Bell taught you. 🙂

    • Thanks for the reflective response. It makes a huge difference being an adult student desperate to learn. I definitely have some scars from my elementary school years but I loved to read and I have a stubborn mind-of-my-own. I think a big plus was that my parents were readers and the library became a habit at a young age. My mom had her nursing degree, so she had education behind her before having four children. My older sister grew up to be a teacher. My two great aunts were teachers, and another aunt taught high school physics. And my younger sister works at a university. So I was surrounded and I definitly wasn’t giving up. There’s more to my story which I will blog about in future posts.


  2. Kate Kresse says:

    Linda, thank you for sharing this. I can see why this professor had such a powerful influence on you. Through your sharing of her eloquence, it influences us as well. “Write your own history. Write about your work: the who, what, when, where and why. Write your philosophy, issues, goals, methods, problems, references, motivations, contemporary and historical context.” Just the first 4 words are powerful beyond measure, depending upon the emphasis we bring to it! Being mindful of one’s own history (not someone else’s history and context). Forming our own context for our own reasons really does take a lifetime as we continually are “in process”. Then when you wrote ‘what are your intentions’ and ‘know your reasons’ as a way of authenticity and being sure that it isn’t turned into something you never intended it to be…. it is so easy to assume others will know what we mean—iwith our works or our lives. But you (and your prof) are correct. If we don’t know through thought and reflection what our intentions and reasons are, authenticity can never really be there! Oh so well said, Linda!!

  3. Kate Kresse says:

    by the way—i hope you DO write that book!

  4. tbnranch says:

    Thanks for sharing this, quite touching.

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