An Interview With Kevin Slick, Renaissance Man

Kevin Slick, a true Renaissance man, lives and works in Boulder, Colorado and teaches at Erie Elementary School, part of the St. Vrain Valley School District. Before coming to teaching, Kevin worked in radio and also presented nationally with Lucy Calkins’ Writers’ Institute.  When asked what he was most proud of amongst his many accomplishments, he responded that it depends on the category.

His top 5 are:

  • His job as a father to his son Jamie.
  • Playing his original song “Powerful Voice” at a concert honoring the 100th anniversary of Paul Robeson’s birth, attended by Pete Seeger.
  • As a visual artist, the many exhibitions he has had.
  • As a musician and composer, having recorded over 30 albums of original music.
  • And as a teacher, the work his classes share on a daily basis on Twitter and other social media to make connections with others around the world.
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Current and future projects and interests for Kevin include performing with his current group “Savage Hearts” in September at the International Bluegrass Music Association conference, publishing a collected edition of his comic art this year, releasing a new CD and having another one in progress, and producing another collection of poetry.

Kevin is teaching a summer course “Pop Culture Classrooms” on graphic storytelling, and is developing a system of font changes for dyslexic students to enhance reading.

Kevin Slick strongly feels “it is vital for any teacher to practice the craft or crafts they teach. You can’t teach writing, for example, if you are not a practicing writer, same for art or music. The practice, the daily engagement is essential. Students benefit from seeing an artist at work.”

Kevin also makes a point of talking about and sharing art work, whether visual or performing arts that he has discovered.

When asked if he could recount a magical classroom moment, Kevin deferred, saying, “Everyday there are magic moments in the art room. I place more emphasis on the practice than the product, so any day is as important as another!”

 Izzy, Kindergarten is working on beautiful pictures today.  May 9, 2017

Izzy, Kindergarten is working on beautiful pictures today.  May 9, 2017

 Everyartist asked Kevin Slick the following questions. His responses follow in his own words.

Everyartist: Is your school a STEAM or a STEM school? Why and how do you support that philosophy?

Kevin Slick: Our school is a STEM school and we have had access to a variety of tech equipment over the years. This year I used the iPad mini to create art with students, mostly using the photo app and teaching students how to edit and manipulate photographs. We are prolific posters on Twitter with close to 5,000 tweets since we began, and an average of 8,000 impressions per month. One highlight of our use of social media to share art was when a school in Sweden asked for permission to make a print of a drawing done by one of our students (who it turns out is of Swedish heritage) to display in their school.

  KSlick art teacher‏ @Slickclass4   Beautiful  #photography  from 5th grade. Finding beauty in the ordinary  #ArtsEd

KSlick art teacher‏ @Slickclass4

Beautiful #photography from 5th grade. Finding beauty in the ordinary #ArtsEd

Everyartist: What is the best way you spark creativity in your students?

Kevin Slick: Often showing some technique or new medium for students to work with will start the creative spark. I share a lot of my work, and I work alongside the students, too.

Everyartist: What do you think most often blocks our students or us creatively?

Kevin Slick: Creativity can be blocked by notions of having to do things one particular way; step by step, fill-in-the-blank work not only does not support creativity, but it also inhibits students taking responsibility for their learning and their actions in general.

Everyartist: Do you feel it is important to make art in every classroom? Why or why not?

Kevin Slick: I feel making art in any classroom, whether the art room or general education classrooms is important for many reasons—not the least of which is that for some students this will be their one chance to really shine.

Everyartist:  If you had a magic wand or special power to make your school into a more magical place, what would you do?

Kevin Slick:  With my magic wand, I would eliminate the testing that takes up the majority of our school year and encourage more real investigation and real learning in schools.

Everyartist: What is your favorite quote?

Kevin Slick: “Take it easy, but take it!” by Woody Guthrie