Teacher Feature: Art in the classroom more than just fun time — it opens door to creative thinking

For more than a decade, Jeff Arndt has been teaching problem-solving and creative thinking as an art teacher at Ranch View Elementary School in Naperville.

 

“The visual arts are more important than ever in today’s curriculum,” Arndt said. “It has countless benefits in the development of children; it develops the creative thinker and provides students with the opportunity to become more well-rounded individuals.”

 

Arndt said the art room is an opportunity for students to “have hands-on creativity” and a place where kids can express themselves. He’s thrilled to spend his days encouraging a future generation of creative thinkers.

 

We sat down with Arndt to learn more.

 

What and where do you teach? I teach art to students in kindergarten through fifth-grade at Ranch View Elementary School, 1651 Ranchview Drive, Naperville.

 

Degrees: Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and master’s degree from American College of Education.

 

How long have you been teaching? 14 years at Ranch View.

 

When did you know you wanted to be a teacher? I knew I wanted to be a teacher by the time I was in high school. I had a team of high school art teachers who (made such a positive) impact that it made me want to teach and impact students in the same way.

 

What’s the best advice a fellow teacher ever gave you? The best advice a fellow teacher ever gave me was that some years will be harder than others, some days more difficult than the last, but don’t forget why you wanted to become a teacher and that the students need you.

 

What have you learned from your students? I have learned to appreciate the uniqueness that is around us. Each child is so different and I am able to learn something from every one of them.

 

How has being a dad helped you as a teacher? I have two children, a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old. Having my own children tremendously influenced my views as a teacher. They give me another perspective of my students. I found I can relate to the students more than ever.

 

What’s the best part about being a teacher? One of the best parts of being an art teacher is the connections I get to make with the students. I have the unique opportunity to work with my students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Getting to know them, understand them, mentor them, watch them grow as individuals and learn from them is one of the most satisfying parts of my job.

 

What do you like to do in your free time? I like creating my own artwork, mostly illustrations working primarily with graphite pencils. There are many artists I enjoy such as Chuck Close. I enjoy watching sports and also doing home remodeling work.

 

What would someone be surprised to learn about you? People would be surprised to know that I enjoy watching cartoons, playing video games and building Legos with my own children.

 

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be? I would either continue to work in a school setting, probably as a counselor, or I’d do something art related, perhaps in illustration.

 

Favorite book or author? I love reading comic books and graphic novels, and am currently reading “The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library.’”

 

Three words that best describe you: Creative, humorous and caring.