Combining Passions: The Kelly Crowder Story
Name: Kelly Crowder
Department: Fine Arts
Came to Blair: 2007
Classes Taught: Drawing and Design, Foundations of Art, Art and Culture, Ceramics, Studio Art, Photography
Education: University of Maryland; Degree in Art Education
Previous jobs: Art teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia
Hobbies: Swimming, surfing, photography, glass blowing, jewelry making/design
It's the first day of school, and all the students of Montgomery Blair High School are receiving their class schedules for the upcoming year. It's a time of relative excitement with students reuniting with friends and finding out in which classes they will be spending seven hours a day. For many students, the mandatory art class is not exactly an important element of the white index card that reads them their schedule. Art teacher and aficionado Kelly Crowder wants to change all that.
For all those who believe that art is unnecessary in school, it would be in your best interest to keep those sentiments quiet around Mrs. Crowder. She states, in no uncertain terms, that art is a very important component of education. "Art is absolutely critical to a child's overall education!” she exclaims, "I have a graduate paper I could give you and resources that will back up that fact.”
Though she can't find the paper, she proudly displays posters in and outside of her classroom that support her claim. She even hands out a flier detailing the correlation between art and a child's academic success.
Crowder knows that not every student that walks into her class is as enthusiastic about the arts that she does. All she wants from them is their best effort. "For these students, I ask that they give the class their effort and never give up. When the effort is there, nine times out of 10, improvement occurs. That is all I can ask.”
She wants to be able to "open up the world of art to all [her] students”. She hopes that soon these students will embrace the fine arts. "I want them to be able to appreciate art that is all around us in everything we see and do every day.”
Crowder has cherished art since she was a child, but another activity played a large role in her life and brought her to where she is today. "Where I grew up [Long Island, New York] everyone had a pool in the backyard. My parents were afraid I was going to crawl out the door and drown in the pool, so they started me in ‘water babies' before I could even walk.”
Crowder began swimming competitively when she was five and continues to swim with her husband, a fellow swimmer. She recounted to me many of her swimming accolades and to list all of them would require another feature.
But, just to name a few, her accomplishments include swimming for the high school varsity team in the eighth grade, winning the team MVP award from the eighth grade to her senior year, and receiving a full scholarship to the University of Maryland for swimming. Throw in three All-American awards, All-ACC honors, and an appearance at the 2000 Olympic Trials, and it's easy to imagine Crowder's trophy case at home.
The Blair Experience (2007-Present)
After receiving her degree in Art Education from Maryland, she got a job as a teacher in Fairfax County. Four years and a marriage later, she returned to Maryland and began working at Blair.
"My goal was to find a career in which I would be very happy doing every day. I love kids and art so I put the two together and become an art teacher. I have to say that I love what I do.”
She has taught several classes at Blair, but this year she is teaching all the Photography classes. Along with teaching art, Crowder is now one of Blair's swimming coaches and brings her experience and accomplishments to the team. However, she doesn't expect her arrival to alter the team's mindset. "We plan to keep training and competing at our best. We will be in Division 1 again next year which will allow us to have great competition and many chances to race, have fun, and get best times.”
Crowder also enjoys other various forms of art such as jewelry making and glass blowing, but one of her favorite activities not related to photography, design, or drawing. It is surfing, and Crowder claims that surfing is an art in itself.
Right now though, Crowder's focus is continuing to "build up the art classes” and enhancing the art experience at Blair. Perhaps she can change some perceptions of art as well. "My goal is to inspire and create an enjoyable atmosphere for all students, even those who feel they are not great artists. I hope to create an environment in which students can grow as individuals, and perhaps they will find that art isn't as bad as they might have thought.”
Abel Chanyalew. More »