The journey of the traveling art teacher


DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - A local art teacher is going above and beyond to keep his students engaged. 

James Dawson is an art teacher for Decatur Public Schools, District 61. He's known throughout the district for his fun and creative art lectures. 

"People either think you are born with it or you're not, that's just not true. We can teach creativity," says Dawson. 

Dawson started as a teacher at Dennis Lab School, but then decided to take District 61 art teaching position. Now, instead of staying in one classroom all day, Dawson traveling from school-to-school teaching art. 

"There are 4 buildings that have a permanent art teacher and I fill in the rest. I have 49 classrooms, 11 schools. I'm a gypsy," laughs Dawson. 

He's known as the Decatur Public Schools traveling art teacher. Jumping from school-to-school, wheeling behind his little art cart. Dawson says, it can get tough having so many students, but explains it's also so rewarding to teach so many kids. 

"I have about 1,000 kids a year. I see kids all over the community. I love when they come up to me or a parent comes up to me. It's also so humbling to be around such awesome working teachers," says Dawson. 

Dawson says, every time he teaches a lesson he makes sure to add in all subjects. Teaching kids math, geography, science and literature in each lesson. Dawson explains, it's so important to keep arts alive in schools because kids will need it for the future. 

"It's a 21 century skill. There's no fortune-500 company that is looking for non-creative people," explains Dawson. 

Even if a student struggles, Dawson says it's important for kids to try, and get their creative juices flowing. 

"We're trying to provoke creative thoughts, competition and confidence. Everyone doesn't have to be the next Picasso. I just want them to finish, I want them to be confident in their work and I want them to have fun," says Dawson. 

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