FREDERICK — Each spring, the state of Oklahoma partners with the Oklahoma Alliance of the Arts to recognize a teacher with the State Superintendent’s Awards for Arts Excellence. This year’s honoree was Clint Reid, an art teacher with Frederick Public Schools.
Reid describes his teaching philosophy in three words: relational, relevant and reflectional.
For Reid, a good teacher needs to build trust with their students, make their lessons relevant to their student’s daily lives and be able to reflect on their own work. It’s the same teaching philosophy he explained in his application for the State Superintendent’s award.
Reid was nominated for the award by Frederick Public Schools Superintendent, Shannon Vanderburg. It was not an award he was expecting to win.
“I had to fill out an application, answer several questions about my teaching methods, lesson example, and professional involvement in the arts. Then I mailed it with two reference letters from the high school principal and counselor, and promptly forgot about it,” Reid said.
Reid said he feels blessed to work for a school district that “values the enormously positive impact learning music and arts have on children.” Though he has always been an artist, he hasn’t always been a teacher.
“I only had a few jobs I really wanted to do when I was young. Architecture, landscape design, graphic design and teaching. I also took a ‘career advisement’ test in eighth grade that said I’d make a great flight attendant. I never really followed up on that,” Reid said.
After proposing to his now wife at the age of 30, the couple decided to move back to his hometown of Frederick. As a kid, Reid said he didn’t much like his hometown. A condition he chalks up to a negative attitude, one that he carried with him into college.
“Now that I’m back in my hometown, I can see the many good things about it, and I understand that ‘nothing to do’ is just an invitation to practice the unlimited but often hard to find initiative,” Reid said. “So I’ve made it my goal to not be an art ‘teacher’ in my hometown, and I tell my kids at school as much. Our goal is to use art to learn work ethic, creative problem solving, perseverance through practice, discover exciting career paths and developing new ways to communicate and express oneself.”
The credit, he said, goes to the staff, administration and team at Fredrick Public Schools.
“I’m surrounded by a fully supportive admin, an amazing team of teachers and support staff I call my work family, and some of the most amazing students I’m proud to call my kids. It’s a job my family and I have turned into our life. It’s the hardest ‘job’ I’ve ever had, but at the same time, the most rewarding by far,” Reid said.
At a time when school districts across the country have eliminated arts programs, Reid makes the case for art, music and theatre as necessities. While he said there are many scientific studies that show the positive effect the arts have on developing brains, he admitted that he was no scientist. But what he did have, was first-hand experience with the ways the arts have changed his students lives.
“The football kid who drew the same thing over and over (a fist) for half a year then told me when he graduated how good it felt to take the angry emotions and put them on paper and feel the peace that came afterward,” Reid said. “Or the student I taught for three years who told me the entire time ‘I’m not an artist, I can’t be an artist,’ who is a year away from graduating at USAO with a fine arts degree and a body of art work that makes me emotional, who told me last year she knew she was an artist ... I don’t think these stories would exist without the freedom and flexibility I’ve had as an arts teacher.”