Art teacher goes from virtual trips to beautifying the Valley

PHOENIX — When schools went virtual, a Valley art teacher hit the road, taking her students on virtual field trips. Now that the class is back, she continues to bridge the gap by hosting mural events across Phoenix to ensure students keep their skills up to date.

“I love painting because it’s forgiving,” says Candace Greene, an art teacher at Sevilla West Elementary School in the Alhambra School District. “If you mess up, you paint over it and change it to something else that makes it easier.”

And now Ms. Greene shares that love of painting in person with her students and their families.

As an art teacher who’s been back and forth between virtual and in-person learning over the past two years, it’s all about taking these ideas from screen to canvas (or in this case , a concrete wall).

When ABC15 caught up with Ms. Greene, she and a number of students were painting a mural at Tawa Mini Park near 7and and Campbell Avenues in Phoenix.

Ms Greene reflected in March 2020 when the pandemic seemingly stopped the world in its tracks. Like so many other teachers, she worked with children online.

“I only had about 40% of my class. I had no supplies or materials to give them to work from home…I knew I had to do something different.”

And that’s when Ms. Greene began to think and create. She decided she would take her classes on virtual field trips throughout the Valley and across the state, from the Phoenix Zoo to the town of Tubac.

Her favorite place (and her students’ favorite) was when she took them to the Grand Canyon to watch the sunrise.

“It was unlike anything I had seen before,” says Hanna Allen, who was an 8and grader at the time. “It was really beautiful and just amazing. Because it was all those colors. And just kind of inexplicable.”

As a young artist, this was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“It meant a lot to me. It made me realize how much she cared and loved her students.”

After 40 virtual field trips, Ms. Greene is beginning a new chapter with her class. Now that class is back in person, she spends her time painting murals all over town with students and their families.

So far they have painted five murals.

What motivated her to do this? She said, “Kids. And being able to give our kids an opportunity that they otherwise wouldn’t have… It’s just a beautiful time where they can do whatever they want. Be as creative as you can be. And I love it. And I love seeing the sparkle in their eyes.”

Ms. Greene and her students don’t stop there. They will soon launch a TV show based on their virtual field trips on WTSMTV.

If you would like to donate art supplies for the next mural project, email [email protected]

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