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Friday, November 6, 2015

MISD High School Art Camp Quadruples in Size

Dallas Williams (left) and her art camp students.
When it comes to creating art, there is an element of surprise that can sometimes lead to a stroke of genius. The same concept came into play when Timberview High School art teacher Dallas Williams prepared to launch an art camp seven years ago.

When Williams was in high school, she experienced a tough time, and it wasn’t until she connected with her art teacher-turned-mentor that she gained clarity about her future.

“I went from being a very poor student to a straight-A student,” recalls Williams. “It was definitely the relationship I made with my art teacher that made all the difference for me.”

Williams went on to receive the “Bootstrap Award” for improvement her senior year. It was then that she decided she wanted to work to inspire positive change in the lives of students, just as her mentor had done for her.

Williams has now been teaching art for 20 years, 10 of which have been in MISD at Timberview High School. Seven years ago, she began offering an art camp for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Middle school and high school students also participate in the camp as volunteer helpers and counselors. As the camp gained popularity, Williams gladly developed a plan for expansion. There are now four art camps offered throughout the year.

The camp has drawn students from all across the district, as well as some out-of-district students. For Williams, the greatest surprise has been watching the relationships develop between the campers and the high school students that volunteer as counselors.

“Watching the creative connection between the kids is so rewarding,” Williams said. “A lot of them continue to come back each year and they build on those relationships. It’s really special for me because I can say firsthand; you never know when you’re going to meet that one person or mentor that could change your life forever.”

A student learning how to sculpt clay.
Many of the counselors enjoy helping out with the camp so much that they continue to volunteer even after they’ve graduated from Timberview.

“My absolute favorite thing about the camp is getting to know all of the little kids and seeing their personalities come out through their artwork,” said 12th grader Keshayla Gainer, who is considering returning to volunteer at camp after graduation this spring.

In addition to being an avenue for the development of many friendships and mentor-mentee relationships, the camp also serves as a substantial fundraiser. This year, Williams will be taking some art students on a trip to New York where they will have an opportunity to view lots of famous art and take part in a workshop at the legendary Guggenheim Museum.