Emily McLemore, Stephenville High School visual arts teacher, has been teaching a variety of subjects for many years, but her knowledge of the art world began when she was a little girl.
Her father, Les Maxwell, owned a sign company in Stephenville for many years and McLemore grew up learning the trade of screen printing and watching her father create art.
“I was a performer and musician. I went to Hardin-Simmons University as a theatre major and fell in love with the design side of play production,” she said. “I learned about scenic painting, costume design and more. I continued my education with an MFA (concentration in arts administration) from Florida Atlantic University where I had the opportunity to work in an art gallery and gained experience in gallery management and working with visual artists.”
It was while she was at FAU, in 1997, that she received a call from Stephenville High School asking her to come teach theatre.
“I said yes and started my teaching career,” she said. “Over the years I have taught more than a dozen subjects, both elementary and secondary, in six different school districts and am certified in seven different subject areas and have my principal’s certificate.”
McLemore took over the art department at SHS in 2008 and has enjoyed seeing it grow over the years.
“I was thrilled and quite nervous as I am not a traditional artist - I would define myself as a mixed media artist who dabbles in every art form,” she said. “What I have found is that because I don’t have a traditional background, I can relate to the vast majority of my students who don’t consider themselves artists. This has opened the door for the students to find untapped potential and enjoyment in the visual arts.”
McLemore teaches four sections of Art 1, two sections of Art 2, two sections of Art 3 and one section of Advanced Placement Art.
“One of the things that has helped me as a teacher is that I have a work in progress in my classroom and my students see me create regularly,” McLemore said. “I make sample projects and push the boundaries of traditional art every day. Because I am willing to try and fail and try again, my students are more willing to do so as well.”
McLemore hopes her students will leave her class with the understanding that they can create art.
“Yes, some will be better at drawing or painting than others, but all will have the opportunity to say that they created,” she said. “The life-changing takeaway skill that I want every student who crosses my path to learn is that mistakes are part of the process and that if we only do what we already know how to do, then life is boring. Creating art makes life messy and fun and real.”
With the implementation of iChampion digital learning at Stephenville ISD, McLemore is embracing the evolution of art.
“While many of the projects we do in class are drawing/painting type projects, the process has changed. In the past we would have spent a great deal of time drawing small sketches and working on color schemes with colored pencils,” she said. “Today, we can use digital means to do all of the planning. This saves a great deal of time and resources. Moving forward, we are also looking at creating artwork using the 3D printer.”
Using technology in the classroom is bringing exciting things to SISD and McLemore is looking forward to what this school year has in store.
“This year we have designated computer lab time for art and this allows all students the opportunity to learn more about the digital side of art,” she said. “This is my goal…to marry technology and traditional processes to create quality artwork and if in the process we can teach a few job-related skills like screen printing and graphic design, fabulous!”