By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications
Paul Sinclair was an artist before he was a teacher. Art is what brought him to teaching.
Mr. Sinclair was interviewing in the world of artists when a teaching job came open. His plan was to teach for seven years and then go back to art full time. His experience with helping students through art convinced him to remain in teaching.
“While teaching high school for several years, I realized I was able to reach some of my more difficult students,” he said. “Some of these difficult students would only come to school to attend my art classes. That allowed me to make a commitment to education. I felt my need to teach.”
He came from a public school to Scecina eight years ago. After interviewing at Scecina, he felt it was the place for him.
“I love that Scecina is a Christian school,” he said. “Scecina allows me to freely talk about God and share with this school my relationship with God as a Christian.”
Scecina offers a variety of art classes: Introduction to Two-Dimensional Art, Advanced Two-Dimensional Art, Ceramics, Portfolio Prep Independent Study and Beginning Jewelry.
Senior Payton Brown currently takes two art classes from Mr. Sinclair, Jewelry and Advanced Two-Dimensional Art, and also has taken Two-Dimensional Art and Ceramics. She’s not planning on becoming an artist; she just likes to pursue art as a hobby and loves the passion and work ethic Mr. Sinclair brings to creating art.
“I just like doing art for myself. It helps relieve stress,” said Payton as she worked on a ring in Jewelry class. Also, she added, Mr. Sinclair teaches more than art.
Teacher Paul Sinclair (left) and Payton Brown with "George," the class skeleton used as an anatomy model for art students.
“We also learn life skills (in art classes),” said Payton, who wants to study business and accounting in college. “Mr. Sinclair is always telling us to try our best and that we always can keep getting better. He tells us to set high standards for ourselves, that we’ll have to compete in the world, so we need to know that now. He makes us think.”
In Scecina’s curriculum, art classes fall under Fine Arts, along with music, theatre and TV classes, said guidance counselor Josh Orndorff. Scecina students in Academic Honors must take one full year of Fine Arts, he said.
“We encourage all students to take Fine Arts to make sure they’re well-rounded,” he said.
One of the art students’ assignments was a sequence of pictures of candy bars being unwrapped. This assignment help teach one-point perspective drawing (3-D drawing).
“Through educational research years ago, educators became aware that the attention span of the average 16-year-old American was down to about 9 minutes,” Mr. Sinclair explained. “To keep my students focused on learning one-point perspective drawing, I chose the candy bar for my Intro to Two-Dimensional Art students to draw because of the rectangular shape.
“The purpose is to teach students how to draw any rectangular shape from nine different viewpoints. Students must also capture in their candy bar drawing the reduction of the candy bar by biting and eating.” For example, students must show bite marks.
Mr. Sinclair believes art classes show students the beauty of God’s creation and the beauty of creating.
Teaching art “gives me the opportunity to share with students what the Bible says in Genesis about God’s creation. It says that God created the heaven and the earth and everything on and in earth. God also created people who became the artists and they/we use the materials that God has made.
“With some of the things that God created for us, we can make functional as well as aesthetically pleasing things. The artist designs and make the things that the world needs in order to function, such as cars, books, home designs, my wedding, ring, toys, etc. The list of things that artists design or make is endless.”
His own art pursuits are photography and drawing. His art classroom at Scecina is filled with students’ creations but also his own photos and drawings. As for other hobbies, he likes ice skating and says, “I might be seen on a tennis court.”
Mr. Sinclair and his wife, Dee Anne, a science teacher at Scecina, have traveled the world. Last year they were awarded Teacher Creativity grants from the Lilly Endowment and went to Mount Kilimanjaro.
It was their second Teacher Creativity grant. In 2010, they received their first grant and went to the Pacific Northwest. They also have traveled to Mount Everest Base Camp and to New Zealand for an educational expedition to volcanic fields.