21’ - 22’ LVP Teacher of the Year Winner Wichelle Norton on Art as a Gateway to Vocational Training

In the run up to the announcement of BCSD's 22'-23' Teacher of the Year, we spoke to our 21'-22' year winners about their commitment to teaching and what makes Baldwin School District stand out. This blog series highlights those incredible teachers and what they do to make a difference.

After completing her travels with AmeriCorp, and working among those in need with Habitat for Humanity, Wichelle Anne Norton knew that there had to be a way to transfer the emotional catharsis of artwork into something that was pragmatic to those in economic need.

She recalled the instructors she’d had as a child at Marvin Pittman Laboratory School in Statesboro, GA, where she had such a close relationship with her art teachers that she can still recall their names to this day. “In their classes,” she said, “I learned so much about the world through art history. I learned that art has the power to communicate thoughts and feelings,” Norton decided that she would provide students with the same level of commitment and passion that her teachers had provided her, so she pursued K-12 Art Education Certification and began work as an art teacher at Lakeview Primary.

“in the classroom, when you’re teaching lessons about things like integrity and responsibility and kindness, it’s important to make clear that those are not only qualities for the school, but for life outside of the classroom.”

“One of the things I’d like to see is more emphasis in vocational and job training,” Norton said, “Even though I am a primary school teacher, I feel like art is a great introduction into vocational education.” In her art class, kids use their hands and become invested in connecting physical work with mental processes and speaking through actions. “Art is a kind of gateway to vocational training,” Norton said, “the kids learn how to weave. They use their hands. They connect what’s in their brain to their hands. They make things real.”

For Norton’s students, there is no such thing as a mistake. Only another opportunity to grow. Since she joined the Baldwin County School District in 2006, Norton has ushered countless students along their