Portrait by Hunter Johnson
2018, a year that was an utter blur. It went so fast, with so many twists and turns; an actual roller coaster. A year that had moments of such highs and the lowest lows. With the lows giving the pits of hell a run for their money, it made it difficult to take in really in everything that happened this year.
Favorite Student Art of 2018
started the 2018 back in the classroom. Not just any classroom but public schools’ classroom with elementary when I got hired to work for Prince George’s Public School December 2017. I remember feeling fearless, almost unbothered because when you’ve been with grown adults who would literally throw some fists to get to do crafts with you elementary art seems like a cake walk. My first “year” (five months) of teaching was beautiful and challenging, but maybe not for the reasons many would believe. I had to prove myself that I wasn’t the young door mat art teachers my coworkers had seen before me. Being one of the only white professionals in my schools, I realized I stood out, I was the odd ball. To me I didn’t flinch at this but think I had to be extra friendly, extra honest, yet extra myself to not only my coworkers but the students. Not because I wanted to be accepted or liked but I knew I wasn’t doing these things I would ultimately feel like I was living lie. Doing extra whatever it was would be appreciated, showing I wasn’t some imposter who was scared to stand out. Very rarely, like maybe once, I came home frustrated, overworked, and broken hearted; something many swore I would feel daily being in title one school being the minority. A moment I can hold close to me from this year was when a coworker who I normally don’t feel the closest to, or even appreciated by, came up and PRAISED ME for loving my students as mine own although we walk different paths. I’ll leave 2018 knowing while I may be one of the few white people my students interact with, they know me for me. They know Miss S doesn’t play. She’ll take a marble point away and call you out for your nonsense, maybe even raise her voice if you don’t react to my other tactics. They know I am honest, if you asked I’ll give you my best answer. I’ll have their back even when they aren’t always in the right if they’re trying to be the best person they can be. Even when they’re not being the best person they can be, I’ll help to find a way through it all and fix the problem. They know Miss S loves them even when I need to practice their names 5 million times, their hugs even when there’s been beef in the past, and dreams even if it doesn’t consist of art. This moments of the truest professional growth didn’t stop when I went to Atlanta. Fresh off passing my first praxis test (WHAT WHAT!) returning to The High and my city just gives me another type of recharge that’s hard to explain. Being immersed in art ed and appreciation, with no grading, surrounded by culture and my love, no b*llshit gives me strength. Strength that got me to jumpstart my life and snap me back into me.
Favorite Images of 2018
Moving out was a huge moment. Realizing sometimes you have to be there to make the jump no matter who will be there was the hardest. The idea of nights alone filled me with fear but I then realized I didn’t have enough time to think of it. Six weddings, three during my moving period kept me busy and when push come to shove I would light a candle, play the music I wanted, make some sangria and get out of my feelings. It taught me you are your happiness at the end of day, you want something, speak up and make it happen. Maybe that’s why I finally ran my first 10K, a goal I made two years ago when I first graduated. Maybe it was why after years of running 5K I actually placed fifth in my age group! This was months, maybe even years of being in the middle. Not saying no but not yes to me and what I needed. This was a hard decision to sometimes make, especially when my maternal grandfather suffered a stroke right before the school year ended and I was making plans to go to Georgia. To make this decision to go away, leaving my parents to pick up the pieces haunted me, but at the end of the day it was right. I found this same thing when it came to cutting out toxic habits, people, and mindsets. I’m still trying with this one because at the end of day I still have a big heart. I don’t think that’s a crime yet I know I need to be not only protective of my heart but more importantly of my time.
Favorite moments of 2018
It was blurry but it’s becoming clear every day. I love working creatively with beautiful people of all ages. I need to prioritize me and my wants. I need to take chances. I need to be me. It took months of growing paints to get through the fog. I can’t wait to keep pushing through more art, more goals, more dreams and for you, 2019.