Behind the Art with Jen Matott

Hi, Jen here again to share another layout that I made with the Empathy kit!  This one has a lot of meaning for me and probably doesn't make much sense looking at it if you do not know the story behind it.  So let me share with you...

The journaling only tells a tiny piece of how lucky I feel working at my school.  I am the art teacher there and I teach kindergarten through 6th graders, about 475 kids in all.  I have been there 5 years and taught in 2 other buildings prior to that for a total of 15 years teaching art! 

Around Thanksgiving this year, one of my current students and her family were in a horrific car accident.  A man, who was on multiple drugs, crashed head-on to their car.  They were returning home from their youngest daughter's 2nd birthday party.  The mother was killed in the crash.  Olivia, a 5th grader at my school, was severely injured along with her little sister and older brother, who I also had as a student a couple years ago.  The father was injured as well but the worst injuries were sustained by Olivia.  She was paralyzed from the waist down with multiple surgeries to correct spinal injuries as well as other severe injuries.  We were all horrified by this tragedy.  Our school is a tight knit school.  We are a caring community of teachers, parents, administrator, and students. We met and brainstormed ways to help this family, not just immediately but in the future too.  The photo in my layout is of our brainstorming efforts.  Assigning jobs, visitation schedules, and organizing help for the family.  Teachers banded together and took turns visiting Olivia and her family in the hospital each day.  Teachers would sit with her during her long evenings, read to her, talk to her. Kids immediately wrote Olivia get well cards, drew pictures, made rubber band bracelets to sell in order to raise money for her family.  Recently, her classmates and friends began to be able to visit and help make her smile!

It's been a long road this past month, but Olivia is doing so much better.  She even wiggled her toes on one foot recently!  We have a network that updates everyone when a teacher is at the hospital so that everyone knows how Olivia is doing and what is needed. My art club kids made ceramic ornaments and I brought an artificial tree up to decorate with them for her.  She smiled and was so happy to see symbols of her friends love and support.  I was happy to have contributed to making her stay there a bit more bearable.  She has a long way to go and a lot of hard work, emotional pain, and physical challenges to overcome but she is a strong little girl and I have no doubt that she will be okay.

This sharing and caring is unique to my school.  We have the most generous, caring, and loving teachers, staff, kids and Principal.  I am so very thankful for my luck in being placed in this school.  It's more like a family than a workplace.  

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