KOKOMO, Ind. — For more than 40 years, Dick Evans has inspired future elementary teachers to incorporate art into their classrooms.
Evans, B.S. ’69, M.S. ’72, has been an adjunct faculty member in the Indiana University Kokomo School of Education for 45 years, but has no plans to stop teaching, even as he watches friends and colleagues of his generation retire. Many of them tell him they can’t wait to retire and do what they want to do, he said.
“I’m doing what I want to do,” he said. “It fulfills me as an artist to work with future teachers, who will instill a love of art in children. Teaching is a lifestyle. You either have the passion for it, or you don’t. I will continue to teach as long as I continue to enjoy it. The students will let me know when it’s time to retire.”
In addition to his years at IU Kokomo, Evans has taught 47 years at Kokomo High School.
His classroom experience gives him valuable insight as he prepares his students to be teachers, according to Suzi Morgan, B.S. ’06.
“He could give us real world examples of how he handled situations in his classroom,” she said. “We could ask classroom management questions, or about dealing with difficult students, and he always had stories of how he handled those situations. It was nice to do the lessons and get tips from a teacher who was currently in the classroom.”
Morgan, who teaches fourth graders math and science at Western Intermediate School, noted that she is more of a crafter than an artist, but because of what she learned in Evans’ class, she incorporates art into her classes.
Shirley Aamidor, interim dean of the School of Education, said Evans teaches art in a way that is not intimidating to those with little or no previous art experience.
“When they take his class, they see art is everywhere,” she said. “They learn about art history, techniques, styles, colors, and shapes. He introduces it in a way they can feel comfortable having conversations with children about art.”
While students enjoy the class, she noted, it is not easy.
“His exams are really quite rigorous,” she said. “He makes sure they are prepared to be high-quality teachers.”
After graduating from Kokomo High School in 1962, Evans went to IU Bloomington planning to be a commercial artist, but discovered a love for ceramics during a class he took to fill a hole in his schedule.
“The first piece I threw, that was it, I was hooked,” he said. “I just had the feel for it.”
He changed his major to art education, and earned a license that allowed him to teach art to children kindergarten through 12th grade. Shortly after beginning his teaching career at Kokomo High School, he was asked to teach in the fine arts department at IU Kokomo. He transitioned to the School of Education later.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to interact with college students,” he said. “Quite a few of them come over to the high school to observe my teaching, and see what it is like to be a teacher.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana