The start of the school year is usually a very exciting time. Teachers look forward to meeting their new students and starting fresh. Your classroom is decorated. You have your units and lessons planned. You have a feeling of butterflies the night before the first-day of school (no matter how many years you have been teaching).
This year, many schools opened in Louisiana – only to be flooded a few days later by what many are calling a thousand year weather event. No one saw this coming. There was no projected path to look at days in advance. It just seemed like a weekend of thunderstorms and heavy rain.
Thousands of people have lost their homes. A few of our Louisiana people have died.
In the face of a giant disaster such as this, how can the power of art play a role?
I pondered all of this – and do what I love to do – I grabbed a beer and headed out to the shed in my backyard to paint. I didn’t really know what to paint – I had no plan. I turned on some Louisiana music and began to paint.
At some point, the thought of the “Cajun navy” and the image of neighbors helping neighbors took hold. The concept of the Louisiana people, working together to overcome such incredible feats, began to take shape.
There is a special feeling that one gets living here – a sense of defiance and a willingness to fight for home. This is when the piece Louisiana: People Stronger Than Water was born, and when I realized my way to help my fellow teachers in Louisiana begin rebuilding.
Right now, all around our state, people are helping in any way they can. A friend who runs a pet-adoption place is rescuing animals; friends who can help gut houses are driving to do so; there are food drives; there are clothing drives. Every niche imaginable is being filled – because there are so many parts of life that will need to be replaced for the people who have been flooded.
Today, many Louisiana classrooms are underwater. Each year, teachers spend at least $200.00 to $300.00 of their own money towards school supplies for their classroom. Many of these teachers had just purchased their school supplies when disaster hit, destroying countless boxes of tissues, markers, poster board and chalk.
As a teacher myself, I have teamed up with Where Y’Art and A+PEL, the Association of Professional Educators of Louisiana, to help teachers begin rebuilding.
100% of the proceeds from sales of prints and oil paintings of Louisiana: People Stronger Than Water will go directly to teachers whose classrooms have flooded. The teachers will be able to purchase whatever classroom supplies they see fit – which will help bring some normalcy to their lives and the lives of their students. It’s one little part of the bigger whole, but something that can make a nice impact.
A+PEL immediately began reaching out to all Louisiana teachers – regardless of what type of school. So far they have received hundreds of requests from flooded-classroom teachers and expect that number to rise. They are a 501c3 non-profit organization and will work to verify that each claim is authentic to a flooded school by working with principals.
And anyone who wants to use the power of art to help has the following options:
You can purchase a print or an original oil painting. The prints are $35 for a letterpress version, $75 for a fine-art digital print, or $350 for an original painting. 100% of the proceeds go directly to the teachers – and you get some meaningful, social-conscious folk-art for your home or office!
Want to do something extra for an affected classroom?
Another option is to use the power of art to heal – by purchasing and donating a print or a painting to a flooded school. Over the course of the next school-year, I will work with A+PEL to bring artwork into these impacted classrooms – it’s a small gesture that goes a long way. The artwork will make classrooms a little bit more welcoming and beautiful for the students – and also remind them each day that people out there care. I can think of no better message for a young child whose school year got off to a rough start as a result of the catastrophic flooding that hit our state.