When Carrie Rodlend walks into a Helen Haller Elementary second-grade classroom, a box of art supplies tucked under one arm, heads turn.
"Hi, Ms. Carrie!" shouts one boy.
A small blonde girl runs to give Rodlend a hug.
"I like Ms. Carrie a lot because she's an artist and she's very good," explained McKayla Woodward, 8. "When she has us do it, she makes it easy so everyone can do it."
Rodlend, a longtime Sequim artist who, in her own words "talks a mile a minute with a funny British accent," shrugs off the compliments, doled out by students, teachers and parents alike.
"I'm like Mary Poppins, I come in, teach a lesson and then disappear," Rodlend said of her appeal to the children. "It's really for me because I pop in and pop out so kids are fascinated ... it's the teachers that are always there that do the real work."
Still, said Helen Haller Elementary art program volunteer and parent Kristin Glenn, Rodlend has a special way with children.
"(She) provides kids with an opportunity to work with a professional artist," Glenn said. "Most kids wouldn't have that otherwise."
Although she has been teaching art to Sequim children and adults for decades, Rodlend joined HHEART two years ago after the school's Parent-Teacher Organization launched the art program.
According to Glenn and fellow volunteer Candyce Jack, the Haller PTO provides funding for Rodlend's time and supplies through grants and tax-deductible community donations. With the money, Rodlend spends two days per school year in each Haller classroom creating art and teaching techniques. This year, Jack said, Sequim Education Foundation provided a grant to cover all supplies.
Through separate funding, Rodlend said, some teachers have her come in once a month to their classrooms, at Haller as well as Greywolf Elementary, Five Acre School and Olympic Peninsula Academy.
For Rodlend, who also works with high-school age students and adults from her Sequim studio, said while she loves teaching the enthusiastic children, she focuses on the children who are having a tougher time grasping the concept.
"My goal is to make (the lessons) successful for every kid there," Rodlend said. "It's about drawing a line and feeling successful doing it."
Rodlend added that much of her work fits in with other parts of the students' curriculum, including English, math and science. Glenn agreed.
"When you see her in the class, she provides an interesting program that integrates math, science ... she gives kids a chance to create things," Glenn said. "My child just adores her."
A helping HHEART
The Helen Haller Elementary Art program was created two years ago by the Haller Parent-Teacher Organization to offer art time to every enrolled student in the school. Sequim artist and arts educator Carrie Rodlend visits each classroom twice a year, funded by the PTO, to introduce students to concepts of design, color and composition using paint, watercolor and pen and ink, among other mediums.
Donors so far include First Federal, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Sequim Community Foundation, Sequim Education Foundation, Sequim Masonic Lodge, Sound Community Bank and numerous Haller families.
The PTO funds the program through grants and donations made by the Sequim community. To donate or for more information, contact Kristin Glenn at 681-0928 or Candyce Jack at 681-4715.
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