Building Confidence Through Art
When Shelby Glantz ’15 first heard about an opportunity to teach art classes for students at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, she was immediately intrigued. This would be a way to use her passion to meet a need in the community.
She responded to alumnus Matt Kistos ’12, who serves as education coordinator at the center and had emailed the Bethel College visual arts department, looking for art students to serve in this capacity.
“When I first contacted Matt, I didn’t know that it was a paid opportunity,” says Glantz. “And I honestly would have done it regardless of whether I was paid or not. I am very blessed to be compensated at all for doing something that I love and am very passionate about.”
Throughout the spring 2015 semester, Glantz spent one to two hours a week at the Center for the Homeless and taught the kids there about a variety of art styles and methods. But beyond that, she had the opportunity to become actively involved in her students’ lives by developing relationships with them.
“For them, showing someone a drawing is like being vulnerable,” she says. “You have to earn their trust.”
It didn’t happen right away, but by the third session, Glantz says the kids began to warm up to her.
“I think I’ve learned what it really means to be a teacher beyond just teaching,” she says. “I naturally tend to get involved in my students’ lives, and they inspire me.”
Glantz says her students are excelling in their academic studies as well as in their artistic endeavors.
“To see those kids — they have a life that I didn’t have and yet they’re excelling in school and they have dreams beyond what I ever had,” she says.
For Kitsos, who set up the lessons through an arts-based grant for the center, it’s been rewarding to see the growth in those working with Glantz.
“I’ve seen a lot more self-confidence and a greater ability to express themselves creatively,” he says of the students. “It’s good for them to have a friend and the kids looked forward to seeing Shelby each week.”
He hopes to build a better relationship with Bethel in the future so that more college students will feel inspired to volunteer.
“I want [kids at the center] to meet someone that’s in college and see that one day, they could go to college, too.”
Learn more about Bethel’s Visual Arts Department at BethelCollege.edu/Arts.
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