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Dr. Patty Bode, Principal, Amherst Regional Middle School, Amherst Regional Public Schools (February)Bode
In 2016, I accepted the appointment as principal of Amherst Regional Middle School in Amherst, Massachusetts, the school in which I had left a piece of my heart in the art room a decade earlier after earning my doctorate and entering higher education as a teacher educator. Working with undergraduate, master’s level and doctoral students was inspiring, and I had not imagined I would ever leave higher ed. Yet in 2014, I was called back to the PK-12 public schools on a two-year grant appointment to help launch Springfield Conservatory of the Arts, an urban, public middle and high school. Then last year, I was invited to return to Amherst Regional Middle School – this time as the principal. I was thrilled to return to this community, which had shaped so much of my trajectory as a social justice art educator, so I accepted the opportunity to facilitate teaching and learning in the company of early adolescents and the remarkably dedicated faculty who guide them through everyday. Click "Go" to read full bio.

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« It’s Youth Art Month! | Main | Visual Culture - Part 2 »

March 04, 2013

Visual Culture

The second path I want to journey down is my passion for Visual Culture and how that ties into our classrooms.

Let’s kick off with a little about my passion for Visual Culture. It was probably always lurking in the background, but it came to light with beginning to pin down a topic for my MA thesis at the University of Northern Iowa in 2008. Christopher Schulte* was there pushing me to dig deep into what drove me, to find a passion for a topic. I shared a story with him about a recent article I had read titled “50 Works of Art You Should See Before You Die” and a television commercial I had seen while watching football with my family of boys. The middle of the commercial for Sprint® featuring Peyton Manning (then quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts) flashed a few second likeness to M. C. Escher’s “Relativity.” I immediately caught the likeness, but no one else did. With the wonders of DVR, I backed the commercial up and asked my three boys (husband and two sons, ages 14 and 8 at the time) if they recognized any likeness of a work of art in the commercial. They didn’t. I grabbed the laptop and pulled up Escher’s work and they could then recognize the likeness. (Go ahead, search youtube for the “Manning’s Mind” commercial. You know you want to.)

This made me wonder if I was teaching my students to recognize the subtleties in today’s world where famous works of art were being infused all around us. The moment clicked. I had found my passion … Visual Culture.

*Now Dr. Christopher Schulte is an Assistant Professor at Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia after receiving his doctorate at Penn State University. Dr. Schulte is also a 2013 Elliot Eisner Doctoral Research Award in Art Education Runner-Up.

—Ronda Sternhagen   

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