A dozen years ago, art education was considered an enrichment activity at James Island Christian School in Charleston, South Carolina, but over the years it has become a strong and integral part of education. Lower school students have an hour of art per week, the upper-lower school’s students get two hours of instruction per week, and middle school students have three hours of art each week.
“Students are always eager to express themselves through their art,” said art teacher Cindy Tighe. “Our halls are a beautiful, revolving gallery of the students’ art, and they get a lot of satisfaction having their work on display. Because of interest and demand, we also have after-school art classes and evening classes for adults who want to expand their talents.”
Tighe likes to encourage the students to take their talents outside of the school’s walls as well. She encourages participation in local shows and contests, sometimes devoting class time to creating entries, but other times making the information and materials available to students so they can work on their own time. “I choose some major county and tri-county shows, our local island show, and I am always on the look-out of what looks like a fun and new experience. We’ve had great results from these endeavors: a JICS student won the 2014 Congressional Award for South Carolina, and one of our own won the 2015 Lowcountry Children’s Center’s Child Abuse Prevention Month contest, and her art became a billboard posted on our major highway.”
“Through art, students develop many skills that are beneficial in all areas of life,” said Tighe. “The creative process is a response to how God made us. Our uniqueness is evident in our abilities and interests. Along with creating art, reflective discussions and scripture allow students to draw closer to God and understanding him better. We also get exposed to other cultures. Our differences are enjoyed and our sameness makes new connections, opening our eyes to a worldview under the lordship of Jesus Christ.”