Educator Profile: Sarah Lekki
We believe that the arts are essential to the quality of life and community in Central New York. Our mission to promote, support and celebrate arts and culture is the heart of all our programs and services.
We strive to engage with students at every level of education, from elementary to college and with educators and administrators to build a culturally engaged community. Arts education is a key component of several of our programs: Dasher's Magical Gift, Michael Harms Theatre Festival,DeFrancisco Young Artists Scholarship Program,STAR Training Program (Support for Teaching Artist Regional Training), and the AiHE Consortium (Arts in Higher Education). These programs, help ensure that arts education is given full support it deserves in central New York.
So in celebrating Arts Education Week, we would like to recognize some of the many people in our community who are dedicated to enriching the lives of students at all stages of their education.
Thank you to Americans for the Arts for hosting this national celebration of arts education, and thank you to all the educators who impact lives every day through the arts. We hope you enjoy learning about a few of our local educators and reflect on how teachers have impacted your own life. #BecauseOfArtsEd #ArtsEdWeek.
Today CNY Arts would like to introduce you to Sarak Lekki, an art teacher at Brewerton Elementary in Oswego County.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your current role in arts education?
My name is Sarah Lekki. I am the art teacher at Brewerton Elementary and have been for the past 33 years. Brewerton is a school of 455 students, grades UPK through 5th grade. I also teach 4th and 5th grade Art Clubs to provide the older students with additional art experiences. Through the PTO in our school, I teach a 4 week after school art program that meets once a week. We try to do this twice a year, because it’s very popular.
2. What drew you to education?
Since elementary school I have loved creating and the arts. But it wasn’t until middle school, 7th grade, when I had an exceptional art teacher who recognized my artistic ability and at that time my talent began to soar. My art teacher was very kind and generous with his time in nurturing my love of the arts. That is when my art journey began. I knew that one day I would like to help students in the same way he had helped me, and become a teacher.
3. How do you think arts education can help students address current issues in our society?
The arts is an avenue in which students can express themselves freely and address any issue they desire, be it personal, historical, or current events. Art is a visual means of expression. Students can choose any media to convey a feeling, or showcase people, places, things, or an event that is taking place. This can be done in the privacy of a sketchbook or displayed for public viewing in an art show.
4. What is one way in which you keep your personal artistic practice fresh outside of the classroom?
Outside of the classroom, I enjoy spending time drawing, painting, and crocheting, and have plans to do several mosaic projects. I also enjoy when my granddaughter visits, and we can spend time together working on art projects. I often gather with a small group of family and friends to take on new artistic endeavors such as glass painting, paper wreath making, and various other crafts.
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring young student interested in furthering his or her artistic career?
Young artists looking to further their artistic career should always try new things to stay fresh. There is an endless array of art opportunities and experiences awaiting you, try everything. Reach out to other artists, share your ideas, no matter how small, listen to their ideas, and then expand upon them, and watch yourself grow.
6. As part of National Arts in Education Week, we'd love it if you could share one story about how arts education has personally impacted your life!
One of the greatest impacts of my art career has been the ability to invite teaching artists into my art classroom over the years. My students and I have worked with a watercolor artist, paper pulp artist, and several mosaic artists. Every one of these artists has worked with our entire school to create permanent installations, giving the entire student body a feeling of belonging and legacy to their elementary school as they leave it behind when they graduate. Even when they return for a visit years later, students can point out the piece that they have created in the murals. Each one of these teaching artists have influenced me personally as an artist, teaching me and my students a great deal, as well as providing a unique artistic learning experience.