PHOENIX — When schools went virtual, one Valley art teacher hit the road, bringing her students along for virtual field trips. Now that class is back in session, she's continuing to Bridge the Gap by hosting mural-painting events across Phoenix to make sure students are keeping their skills sharp.
"I love paint because it's forgiving," explains Candace Greene, an art teacher at Sevilla Elementary School West in the Alhambra School District. "If you mess up, you paint over it and change it into something else which makes it easy."
And now, Ms. Greene is sharing that love of painting in person with her students and their families.
As an art teacher who has been back and forth between virtual and in-person learning over the past two years, it's all about getting those ideas to go from the screen to the 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 7th and Campbell avenues in Phoenix.
Ms. Greene reflected on March 2020 when the pandemic seemingly stopped the world in its tracks. Like so many other teachers, she was working with kids online.
"I only had about 40% of my class showing up. I didn't have any supplies or materials to give them to work with at home...I knew that I needed to do something different."
And that's when Ms. Greene got to thinking --and creating. She decided she would take her classes on virtual field trips all over the Valley and state --everything from the Phoenix Zoo to the town of Tubac.
Her favorite spot (and the favorite of her students) was the time she took them to the Grand Canyon to watch the sunrise.
"It was unlike anything I've ever seen before," explains Hanna Allen, who was an 8th grader at the time. "It was really beautiful and just amazing. Because it was all these colors. And just kind of unexplainable."
As a young artist, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
"It meant a lot to me. It made me realize how much she cared and loves her students."
After 40 virtual field trips, Ms. Greene is starting a new chapter with her class. Now that class is back in-person, she's dedicating her time to painting murals around town with students and their families.
So far, they've painted five murals.
What motivated her to do this? She said, "the kids. And being able to give our kids an opportunity they wouldn't get otherwise...It's just a beautiful moment that they can do whatever they want. Be as creative as they can be. And I love it. And I love seeing the sparkle in their eye."
Ms. Greene and her students aren't stopping there. They will soon be starting a TV show based on their virtual field trips on WTSMTV.
If you would like to donate to art supplies for the next mural project, e-mail Beautifythevalleysquad@gmail.com.