She Helps Cholla Students Develop Art 'Language'

By Portillo, Ernesto | AZ Daily Star, January 21, 2018 | Go to article overview

She Helps Cholla Students Develop Art 'Language'


Portillo, Ernesto, AZ Daily Star


Raising her hand and weaving imaginary circles in the air, Ukiah Hoy asks her beginning arts students to close their eyes and draw a continuous line.

Silently, she adds.

Hoy tells the Cholla High students to focus on their drawing hand and nothing else around them. Just move your hand around the paper, let it flow, she says. "It will be the longest three minutes of your life," she jokes.

The exercise helps the students reset their focus.

And while the exercise might appear meaningless, something deeper occurs when the class of about 30 students makes their squiggly lines: They've completed a process where there is no right or wrong, nor judgment of the outcome. It is a moment of mindfulness.

Welcome to Miss Hoy's classroom in Cholla's Pod K. It's a place where students find equality, shared values, inspiration and meaning in their art projects. Art is "finding a way to break down walls," says Hoy, a second-year teacher at the west-side school.

Recognition has already reached Hoy, a 2016 graduate of the University of Arizona.

The Women's Caucus of the National Art Education Association awarded the 32-year-old Hoy its Carrie Nordlund pre-K-12 Feminist Pedagogy Award. The award honors an educator for making a "special effort to incorporate feminist pedagogy into her or his pre-K-12 teaching, and which pre-K-12 art educators, peers, and administrators have recognized as inclusive."

"Feminism is an ideology that values equality regardless of gender," said Hoy, who grew up in Catalina, north of Tucson, and graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in 2004.

Treating her students equally and helping them learn to treat each other the same way is a key tenet in Hoy's teaching philosophy. She wants the classroom to be a secure place where the students can learn, grow and create.

At the beginning of the school year, Hoy recounted, she led the students in a discussion of pronouns beyond "he" and "she." The students, more so today than yesterday, have become aware of our fluid gender identifications. More students know fellow students who are undergoing gender change and transformation.

"You're failing students if you're not creating a safe space," said Hoy who teaches five classes with a total of about 140 students, in all four grade levels.

In this safe space art is the focus of her teaching and their learning. And art is the vehicle they use to make life's connections. …

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