From left to right: Kairi Marrero , William Locke. Moving around the circle from there is William Roberts, Audrey Burkhalter, Asher McGee, Colt and and Cash Lewis, Amy Nichols, Ava Hartman, Justen Dameus, Ben Moberg, Merida Sanfilippo, and Amelia Wilkinson
Clermont teacher creates personalized chalk drawings to make students feel special.
Photos: Nicole Hamel
In the early phases of distance learning from COVID-19, teacher Amy Nichols connected with her Pine Ridge Elementary kindergarten students in a fun, artistic way: she drew sidewalk chalk drawings of their favorite storybook characters.
“I missed my sweet kindergarten students,” says Amy. “I wanted to do something special for them each individually. Since I love reading and art so much, I thought it would be fun to draw each student’s favorite book character and then send them a picture of it with an encouraging message, personalized just for them.”
She drew 18 pictures between April and May 2020. Each drawing was a surprise, measuring 8-by-8-foot, and signed “Love, Mrs. Nichols.”
“Many parents described, in detail, exactly how their students responded when they saw their pictures,” she says. There was clapping, jumping up and down, squealing, pictures printed and hung on walls. It made my day to see that it brought so much sunshine to their lives.”
Amy, who has been teaching 16 years, also gave each student a framed photo of his or her art piece, along with a pack of sidewalk chalk to enjoy, and a note that read: “Go color your world with kindness.”
“My goal has just been to encourage and make people happy,” she says. “Besides drawing doodles with my own kids, I had not done any chalk art before this. It didn’t even cross my mind to try it. However, I had always loved painting and drawing so it was exciting to try something new.”
Amy was a high school junior the last time she dabbled in art, over 20 years ago.
“My biggest passion is showing my students how to fall in love with reading,” she says. “I also have had dreams of becoming an author of children’s picture books and middle grade fiction books, and hope to have some of them published soon. I may even try to illustrate them.”
Due to the pandemic, Amy is currently teaching third-grade language arts and social studies at Lake County Virtual School. She hopes to be back at Pine Ridge Elementary in August.
Wanna see more of Amy’s work?→Visit her chalk art Facebook page at facebook.com/Something-to-Chalk-About-108167120960573
Originally from Anderson, Ind., Theresa worked for The Herald-Bulletin for many years. After experiencing a winter with 53 inches of snow, her late husband asked her to get a job in Florida, and they headed south. Well known in the area, Theresa worked with The Daily Sun and The Daily Commercial prior to joining Akers.
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