BRINGING CURRICULUM TO LIFE THROUGH ART
Janelle Deedon has the innate ability to bring grade school curriculum to life through art.
Deedon teaches eager students the gift of art at Steins Pillar Elementary School, all the way from kindergarten to fifth grade. At Crook County School District’s newest grade school, art is a big focus at Steins Pillar for all students.
“Janelle is all the things that you would want to have in your student experience while they are at school,” commented Steins Pillar Principal, Jim Bates. “She is a veteran teacher. She has taught across the grade levels, so she knows the needs of kindergarteners all the way through fifth grade.”
Bates emphasized that she is also a veteran storyline teacher and understands deeply how storyline works and how to incorporate it into her classes. Deedon has a lifetime appreciation for art, and when the opening came up at Steins Pillar, she enthusiastically moved forward with the opportunity.
“It’s been a dream of hers, and she gets to head towards that, but that also means that to do that full-time, she would have to go back to school and complete her endorsement and licensure test, which she completed right away in just a few months. She was amazing — she went right after it,” added Bates.
Deedon now has a master’s degree in teaching with an art endorsement. She began her teaching career in 1998 in Eugene, Oregon. She initially taught in elementary and middle school, until she moved to Crook County in 2003. She has taught every grade K-5 since moving to Prineville.
Deedon shared that she struggled with school as a child and did not have a traditional learning style.
“Knowing what I know about education now, I would have done so much better if I had some more hands-on vactivities and some more learning activities that made the lessons applicable to life,” Deedon explained of the importance of kinesthetic learning.
She knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher so that she could make learning more enjoyable for students who struggled like she did.
“That is why I became a teacher, and it has become a passion of mine. I am so glad that we opened this school because I have always taught that way, and now to have a whole school that does that — it just opens the doors for these kiddos.”
Deedon indicated that having the experience teaching across all elementary grade levels has set her up for success as an art teacher.
“I don’t just teach art, I take content that I know the students are learning in their other classes, and I incorporate that into my art lessons,” she said.
“She brings art and all of our quests (storylines) together, which is a personal goal of mine and part of our mission at our school — to work towards project-based learning experiences and learning experiences that directly relate to each other, whether that is art or in the classroom,” added Bates.
Deedon pointed out that the CCSD worked hard to keep the students learning in person during the past year.
“Because of that, we have been very fortunate,” she added.
Sometimes it is a challenge for her to have enough supplies in the art room, so that nothing is being used by more than one student in one day. Keeping masks on students and keeping them spaced is also a struggle.
Deedon loves seeing students shine when they come into her room. Often students who struggle academically find their niche in this creative environment. She also observes that it is an outlet for many students.
“I feel that helping students learn to work through their emotions is very important. In my art room, all students are encouraged to express their feelings and emotions through their work. I believe that using the arts (music, fine arts, drama) to express oneself is a good lesson for life. When it is hard to put feelings and emotions into words, we can sometimes express them through art. We have practiced this during the pandemic and will continue building this skill,” she concluded.
“I have long believed that art is as important of a learning experience as math, reading and writing. Because we have a specialist here that matches with the mission of our school, we are able to that, and to have the right teacher,” emphasized Bates.