Lee County Schools Teacher of the Week — Elizabeth Schrull
Name: Elizabeth Schrull
School: Lee County High School
Grades/subjects you teach: 9-12 visual arts
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date, place of birth: 1962, Sanford, N.C.
Education (high school & college attended, degrees): I graduated from Lee County High School in 1980; received an A.A. degree from Peace College, in Raleigh, N.C., 1982; and a B.A. in art from Meredith College, in Raleigh, N.C., 1984.
Brief work history: I started teaching at LCHS as a visual arts teacher 10 years ago via the lateral entry program after 18-plus years working as a graphic artist/marketing specialist.
Hobbies/interests outside teaching: My family
Family: husband and two daughters, ages 21 and 24.
What led you to a career as a teacher?
Years ago, I worked as a graphic artist for a community college in South Carolina and really liked the time that I spent in the classroom with both instructors and students. My job was to promote the college and its course offerings to the community and prospective students, and I enjoyed the interaction and feedback from the young students with whom I collaborated. I recalled this as I contemplated teaching.
I was ready for a new challenge. I had spent many years creating for others and welcomed the opportunity to share what I knew with someone interested in learning it. Ironically, I spent the first year or two just learning how to teach what I knew. Teaching someone is very different and much more difficult than doing it yourself!
Who were your favorite teachers as you went through school, and what did you learn from them?
Some of my favorite memories from high school are from history classes with J.O. Bowman. Although we loved to get off-track and did it well, he was absolutely fascinating to listen to. It was impossible to find something about which he didn’t have a wealth of information.
I also had an art professor at Meredith College who I will always remember for his appreciation of all forms of creativity, as well as his acute ability to push his students just one step further toward discovery when they thought they had done all they could.
Has becoming a teacher been all you expected it would be?
Yes, and then some! I have often said that teachers not only teach about the subject they know best, but are also “multi-multi-taskers,” as they also spend their time advising, encouraging, comforting, inspiring, coaxing, persuading, promoting, guiding, supporting, etc., etc.
How has teaching changed since you were a student?
I’m not sure that it has really changed, or if it's just the difference in my age and maturity, but I do feel that the relationship between student and teacher is much more open and conducive to sharing of creative thought between the two. Because of this more relaxed accessibility, we are better able to engage students in more contemplative and conceptual thoughts.
What "makes your day" as a teacher?
One of the greatest benefits of teaching visual arts is that we (as teachers) immediately see the result of our instruction. There is no better feeling than to see that student create with their hands what you have tried to show and communicate with yours. When they do it themselves and realize that they are now able to do the same as you (and we can both physically see that), it is such a sense of pride — for both of us! This always “makes my day."
What's your favorite memory of your first year as a teacher?
Time spent with my mentor — she was a veteran visual arts teacher, and a wealth of knowledge and experience, and was so good to me. She showed me by example how not only to teach the visual arts, but also how to share my love and enthusiasm for it with students.
Best piece of advice for other teachers?
I will never forget something my grandmother said to me years ago. She was a high school history teacher for 40 years. She told me that the only thing I needed to remember was to love my students. Although there are times that I really have to work at that, I know she was right. Most people want to be loved and accepted, and I think what she meant was that, if your students feel secure and cared for in your classroom, they will want to learn what you have to teach them because they trust that you are genuinely interested in them.
What's special about your classroom?
It’s never-ending experimentation ... for both the students and for me. It could easily be called a lab because it’s routine for us to explore new methods, media and thought. We definitely have "hits" and "misses," but we learn from either.
What's special about your school?
The staff at LCHS works very hard to offer every learning opportunity possible to every student who attends LCHS.