Cathy Toburen

Art teaher Cathy Toburen, Spann Elementary School

A place to create.

That is what Cathy Toburen hopes to create in her art class at Spann Elementary. From the map of the world filled with self-portraits of students to the recreations of Matisse paintings from her kindergartners, the room is filled wall to wall with the artwork of her students.

Toburen said that art allows her students to express themselves in ways that they may not be able to do with words. They can create their hopes, desires, dreams, worries and fears.

“I get to see the world through their eyes,” Toburen said.

Toburen said that art class is about more than just crafts. Art can be used to teach about history, culture and math, but also other complex ideas like empathy, understanding and unity.

“The misconception is that art is a class where you just cut and paste and draw,” Toburen said. “Art education is so much more than painting a picture.”

Toburen knows that impact that art education can have on students because of experiences in her own life.

“School did not come easy for me,” Toburen explained. “I had to work hard, but I succeeded in the arts.”

Toburen said that the arts gave her a place to succeed and feel good about going to school everyday.

“It was my passion and it is a gift,” Tobuern said.

Through art she was able to attend Meredith College on a scholarship. While at Meredith College Toburen found her love of art could be combined with her love of working with children and decided to become an art teacher.

Toburen said that teaching has been somewhat of a tradition in her family with both her mother and grandmother were both teachers.

She said that she always loved working with children and wanted to help students unlock their potential in all areas of school.

“There’s so much integrated into art,” Toburen said.

Toburen said that she wants students to understand the ability that they have inside of them and take advantage of the opportunities that art can give them.

“They have a chance to put their stamp, and put themselves in their art,” Toburen said.