|Flourish Online Magazine||Fall 2011|
Amy Johnson: Empowering youth through art
By Tabatha Wahlquist
Photo by Scott Singleton
Photo courtesy of Amy Johnson
“I’m so excited,” gushes Amy Johnson (MAT art, 2010) as she describes the newest chapter of her life. The former Kennesaw State University Master of Arts in Teaching student began teaching art in the fall at Cooper Middle School in Austell. “I have a beautiful room,” says Johnson. “It’s the Cadillac of art rooms.” Johnson, whose collegiate career began at the University of Georgia, where she majored in painting, credits the Master of Arts in Teaching Art program at KSU for igniting her passion for teaching and fostering her professional development.
Johnson describes the program’s diverse faculty as a “powerhouse of knowledge.” From studying the theories and philosophies behind learning to crafting solid résumés and portfolios, Johnson believes that such diversity in her studies helped solidify her passion for art as a pathway to a career. “This program taught us how to market ourselves,” says Johnson. Having graduated in December 2010, she is part of the first cohort to complete the MAT program in art, most of whom quickly secured teaching jobs. “I think that speaks volumes about this program,” she explains.
Since leaving KSU, Johnson has been to Africa twice. Through an organization called Kenyan Education for Youth Society (KEYS), founded by the American nonprofit Christian missionary group Serv Ministries International, Johnson has been instrumental in helping children from the group’s House of Hope orphanage receive a better education. Fearing that children who aged out of the orphanage would return to their old lives of poverty, Serv Ministries founded KEYS, whose mission is to foster the education and development of exceptional children. Earlier this year, Johnson volunteered with KEYS to help nominate those children who were high achieving and highly motivated to attend the prestigious Greensted International School outside Nakuru, Kenya.
Before starting at Cooper Middle School, Johnson taught art at a day camp hosted by Waller Park in Roswell. In addition to providing enrichment, the camp was an affordable means of childcare for low-income families. When she is not teaching, Johnson is also a freelance children’s illustrator. Teachers and art enthusiasts alike can also follow her on her blog, “Artful Artsy Amy,” available through her website.
What she misses the most about KSU is interacting with her professors and classmates on a regular basis. “I miss seeing the people and hearing everyone’s take on things,” explains Johnson. While she may not get to see everyone from her program as often as before, she is pleased to say that the bonds she established at KSU are still present.
“There is this collaborative aspect to the program that has continued past graduation. I continue to feel a strong sense of community with my peers."