McCracken County High School arts teacher Shand Stamper, who teaches Cope’s jewelry and metalsmithing class, agrees that teachers have to train students to take risks and think differently.
“(Students) have so many opportunities to do poorly, especially with standardized testing, things that sort of decrease their confidence level or make them feel less than. I have so many that talk to me about being worried about college or what they’re going to do or not really knowing their way,” she said. “But to come in (to the arts class) and say, ‘I figured out this really hard (project) and I made it look really awesome.’ It’s a big deal.”
Stamper said it’s a misconception that a student needs to be artistic to take an art class.
“Any class that you take you should take with the idea that you know nothing, you’ll be taught everything you need to know,” she said. “Same with drawing. A lot of them will say, ‘Oh, I’m not creative, I can’t do anything.’ Well, if you can follow basic instructions, you’re going to be fine.”
While other schools use metalsmithing components in their classes, Stamper said she isn’t aware of any other Kentucky high school that offers a dedicated course to the art form. “If there is, I’d love to know,” she said.
McCracken County arts teacher Shand Stamper, right, helps Hannah Jones
with a project during Stamper’s jewelry and metalsmithing class.
Students in the class complete several projects, including key chains, pendants and rings.
“The coolest thing for me is when they make their first key chain and they say, ‘This is so hard. Now I understand why things cost what they do,’” Stamper said.
Senior Madeline Jones, who plans to be an art teacher, is taking four art classes this year, including metalsmithing. “It’s really nice having a whole bunch of diverse art classes.”
She said she likes to paint and draw more than working with 3D art materials, but took the class because “I thought it would be cool to get out of my comfort zone.”
Noah Hopkins, also a senior, said taking art classes has helped him in other subjects. “It really helps with problem solving because with art you’re making everything.”
He said he likes the freedom the metalsmithing class gives him to experiment.
“There’s a lot of things you can do with 3D that you can’t do with 2D,” Hopkins said. “With 3D you can do more captures of light and then use the shadows to make art.”