Alison Eeds: Art History • Vacaville High School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 9, 2011
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I remember sitting in fourth period on the first day of junior year, watching with a mixture of curiosity, excitement, and nervousness as my new art history teacher walked up and down the center aisle. The AP curriculum was daunting, to say the least, but her passion for the subject seemed to match mine, and consequently, I hoped the class would be manageable. As she walked, she gestured and spoke quickly, turning into a small, blonde blur. I wondered how this tiny, smiling woman could possibly teach us everything we needed to know when the textbook weighed more than she did. I would quickly learn that what Mrs. Eeds lacked in height, she made up for in character.

Students seem to believe that history is the most boring of all subjects and, in theory, the study of old buildings and complex artworks may not appeal to many, either. Despite this, Mrs. Eeds has managed to make art history a class her students adore. It would be entertaining enough to watch her wild gesticulations and animated expressions as she lectures, but her commentary and, on occasion, background music (which ranges from Baroque orchestral pieces to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” soundtrack) make her words memorable rather than monotonous.

To supplement in-class notes, Mrs. Eeds has devised projects that teach us through different forms of media. She encourages us to think outside the box and rewards creativity. The freedom to create what we want, within the project's parameters, allows us to explore in ways that we did not in any other class. This freedom also lets us delve into the creative process most of us love, thereby fostering a personal hobby. In my case, my love of baking inspired a Rocco-style cake, a replica of a Mondrian piece, and the construction of the Taj Mahal out of Rice Krispies and marshmallows.

With fairness and understanding unparalleled by any other teacher, Mrs. Eeds also personally completes every project she assigns, to prove it can be done. Her beautiful examples inspire us to create works of art worthy of being in our textbooks. (Admittedly, we put so much effort into our projects because we could not bear to disappoint our dear teacher.)

During spring break, Mrs. Eeds gave up four days of her vacation to help us prepare for our advance placement exams, providing not only pages of notes she'd written, but snacks as well. This is just one example of her generosity and devotion. Every day she shows this, whether by rewarding students with candies, or by allowing us to print hundreds of pages of colored notes with her ink, or through the sheer time she spends thinking of ways to help us learn. From her actions, no one would guess that Mrs. Eeds ever struggles.

Daily I feel a heart-wrenching sorrow that I cannot give Mrs. Eeds all that she deserves. As she clicks from slide to slide, showing picture after picture of beautiful architecture and priceless art, she remarks on her desire to one day see them in person. The sincerity in her voice and the longing in her eyes makes my stomach ache with helplessness.

Mrs. Eeds has taught us to see the world with open eyes, to think deeply and differently, and most of all, to dream big. She has encouraged us to follow our hearts across the world, to the cobblestoned streets of France, the sandy deserts of Egypt, and the intricate pagodas of China. Now it is my turn to teach her that her generosity and devotion do not go unrewarded.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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