About the Author

April Malphurs

I love teaching courses at AOEU!  Whether I am teaching a studio, such as sculpture or painting, or an educational focused course, such as DYAC, Cultural Competency, Re-Thinking K, Instructional Strategies, or SEL, I enjoy helping students find ways to apply their new learning to their own teaching situations. It is a wonderful experience to help art teachers feel confident in whatever area of growth they have chosen to focus on.

I have also taught K-5 art in New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota public schools, as well as teaching students ages preschool through adult in museums, community settings, and art centers for over 20 years.  Lately, I have been working on my passion for diversity and inclusion issues through speaking opportunities at conferences, participation on an arts board, and community arts outreach programming.  I also teach art outreach to women and therapy groups through virtual programming. I love helping others find their voice and share their stories through art. That is my goal as a teacher.

My approach to teaching art is grounded in a few core principles. First, I teach from a child development and student-centered approach to art, helping students draw upon their own knowledge and building on that to advance their skills, understanding, and expression. I believe having a thorough understanding of child development is essential for planning sequential lessons that work with children’s strengths, abilities, and thought patterns for a given age to help them grow.

Secondly, I feel it is important to connect learning to students’ lives and experiences. I believe that students should see art as another way to communicate their own stories and ideas to the world. We all come from different families, backgrounds, and experiences, therefore our art should not all look the same, but reflect who we are as individuals. Art provides students with the perfect environment to learn problem-solving skills while integrating their own message into their work.

Additionally, I ask myself, what can you do as an educator to make students feel like they matter, that you see them? I am always researching artists from my students’ culture or heritage to make sure my lessons represent all artists…artists of color, artists of different cultures, women, and not just those of the past, but contemporary artists too.  I don’t do these for a special month or holiday, I do it every day so my students recognize they are all artists. My students’ faces light up when they see themselves represented in the art. As teachers, we have the ability to say “I see you. I respect your heritage and value who you are.” And we also teach our white students to value them too. I love helping others see themselves reflected in art by sharing art from all cultures, races, and of women as well as men. As educators, we have the opportunity to help broaden students’ views and to acknowledge the value of our students’ world.  This has been a passion area of mine since I started teaching in the 90s.

Lastly, through sharing and discussions, I aim to develop students’ communication and analytical skills by developing their ability to back up their opinions with specifics and explanations of why they believe or see that in the work. Additionally, by having students focus on the how and why behind their decisions, students’ self-esteem and confidence increase as they develop a growth mindset focusing on the effort and work they put into their art.

I obtained my BA from Cornell University in interior design, but fell in love with the fine arts, especially sculpture in my senior year. I went onto Columbia University to study art education for my master’s degree, focused on 3D media for my own art, and did my student teaching in Manhatten.  During my studies, I was fortunate to be able to work with the education department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and serve on a research project with the Lincoln Center Project studying the impact of school arts residencies alongside Project Zero, as well as develop my passions for authentic diverse voices in art and the importance of child development and voice for art planning.

As a practicing artist, I also create blown and flame-worked glass sculptures as well as mixed media work. You can see my work by visiting my website aprilmalphurs.com  When I am not teaching or making art, I enjoy spending time with my family, our adorable dog, reading, knitting, hanging out on our deck, talking and laughing with friends, sailing, visiting museums, traveling, eating delicious food and anything chocolate, and loving life.

Professional Achievements:

Cornell University Bachelor’s Degree (1990)

Teacher’s College Columbia University Masters Degree (1993)

My welcome video: https://youtu.be/JwwUS5N71Wg

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