Works of Art

Idlewood Teacher Using Photography to Enhance Global Perspective

Photographer Steve McCurry traverses the globe documenting people from all walks of life. His work, captured in peacetime and wartime, has appeared on magazine covers and garnered multiple awards for its stark honesty and daring transparency. That photography is resonating especially within the halls of Tucker’s Idlewood Elementary School.

“We have photographs of Steve McCurry’s work in the building, all throughout, highlighting all the…nationalities,” said Idlewood art teacher DeMeria Porter. “At the end of last year, I had the students try to replicate something similar from their own culture. They were able to make art with photography and then connect it to something they see every single day.”

The project, and McCurry’s work, is tailor-made for a school like Idlewood. Easily Tucker’s most diverse school, Idlewood boasts a student population that hails from several dozen countries and speaks a variety of languages. Oftentimes, a subject like art can be what connects a non-English speaking student to their teachers and their peers.

Idlewood student art including pop-art dogs, a heart and a Picasso inspired face.

“We have a very diverse student population with about 40 different languages spoken here and our school is about 40 percent English language learners,” explained Idlewood ESOL coordinator Garlfar Andrews. “For the students, particularly the students who are learning English, it’s using simple language, gestures, pictures and having them build a language from that point on.”

Porter and Andrews are both second year teachers at Idlewood, coming in at the same time as Principal Robin Elder. Elder says specialty classes like art have a long-term and beneficial impact on students from all walks.

“Integrating art, music [and] even introducing the international customs and cultures to all students is important to me,” Elder said. “That’s why we have the artwork all around the building because I thought it was important for students that come from other countries to see themselves in our school setting.”

One of the keys to success, Elder said, is her teachers. Porter studied electronics engineering in college and worked for several years as a technical writer and illustrator before embracing her true passion, art. Andrews has been an educator for almost two decades, teaching both here in America and overseas during a stint teaching non-English speakers in the United Arab Emirates. It is these diverse backgrounds that come together to shape the educational experience for students at Idlewood.

“Art has always been in my life. Always,” Porter reflected. “[It is important] being able to pass to them what I know how to do artistically and just teaching them how art is connected to everything that we do: math, science, social studies, ELA. Integrating all of it together so they can make that connection to the real world.”

Much like McCurry’s photography, that real world stretches beyond Tucker, beyond DeKalb County, beyond our nation’s borders and to the farthest ends of the earth. It is places like Idlewood where young minds are being primed to make a global impact as we move through the 21st century and where art will continue to be a medium for progress.

Global School 

Idlewood Elementary is home to students from around the world. English is a second language for many of them, as around 40 languages are spoken in the school’s halls. To get an idea of how challenging educating these young people can be, consider this list of the most frequent languages spoken at Idlewood.


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