Pre-K students work on art project

The youngest students attending Nacogdoches ISD are enjoying the benefits of the district’s fine arts program.

Pre-K students Nettie Marshall Early Childhood Center decorated hats Wednesday during art class. The four-year-olds added decorations to hats that Nettie Marshall art teacher Mark Wallace created for all the students. Wallace repurposed cardboard boxes from the campus cafeteria, cut out the shapes and assembled the parts into hats.

Nettie Marshall Early Childhood Center art teacher Mark Wallace distributes hats to Pre-K students.

“In the last 28 years I’ve made thousands of these hats,” said Wallace, who before arriving at Nettie Marshall taught art for 21 years at Nacogdoches High School and seven years at McMichael Middle School.

On Wednesday the four-year-olds from Maria Hernandez’s class filed into the art room and waited patiently while the teacher and Nacogdoches High School students helping at Nettie Marshall distributed hats. 

“This is a really sweet class,” Wallace said moments before students showed up at the door.

For children, involvement in the arts –  visual arts, music and dance – has been shown to strengthen and enrich academic performance for students and is considered a valuable part of a well-rounded education.

“Our students benefit from working in art class,” said Nettie Marshall Principal Charles Zemanek. “I cannot overstate the rewarding effects of art on students learning at this age. To see such unfiltered creativity is inspirational. These students are four-year-olds, but the activities can serve as a bridge to understanding, not to mention that it’s just fun for them. Mr. Wallace does a great job working with these students.”

Wednesday’s activity also served as an opportunity to see students from NISD’s Career & Technology Education Department working in the classroom. 

The students from NHS – seniors Valeria Ibarra and Vanessa Carrillo and junior Jonathan Stot – are part of the high school’s Instructional Practices in Education and Training course that leads to Educational Aide 1 certification. Part of the course requirement is spending time working in the classroom with younger students.

After students obtain the Educational Aide 1 certification they can work in a variety of occupations within an educational setting, according to Texas Education Agency.

Junior Jonathan Stott from Nacogdoches High School works with a Pre-K student during art class at Nettie Marshall Early Childhood Center.

Vanessa Carrillo (above) and Valeria Ibarra work with students at Nettie Marshall Early Childhood Center.