Ms. Cordy, Ms. Curly, Ms. C.

Say any of those three magic names and I’ll turn with a smile. There are few things sweeter to me than when a child turns to look at me with their eyes shining, crying, “Ms. Cordy! I got it!” When they finally understand, the gears turn, the lightbulb flashes, and everything just clicks. These were the moments that lit my desire to teach back as a tutor in high school.

Although I am credentialed to teach any subject in kindergarten through eight grade, I have chosen to teach first through fifth grade fine arts. Depending on the year, I have been assigned to work at one school or travel back and forth between two schools. I have taught fine arts in a variety of ways including:

  • 30 minute weekly classes via Zoom with 60-90 students each class
  • 650-725 students in 25-27 classes every three weeks
  • Approximately 400 students across 15 classes every week and a half

As a fine arts teacher, I focus on creativity and self-expression. I do not want all the students’ artwork to look the same. Art is not about producing the same result as your peers. It is about exploration and imagination. Which is why I allow students to get as creative as they can within the boundaries I set.

Once, we were drawing aurora bordelaises with soft pastels. A second grader once asked me, “Ms. Curly, can I draw monkeys wearing tuxedos sitting in a hot tub on top of a dragon flying in front of my aurora?” It took me a moment to absorb all of this before I turned and looked at him and said, “Yes, absolutely, if you can figure it out.” His grin was so wide I thought it was going to split his face.

It is very important to me that my lessons are accessible to everyone, because art is for everyone. I teach an incredibly diverse array of students (which makes sense when I have over 600 of them). I design each of my lessons to be highly flexible, so that students can find success whether they don’t speak a lick of English, have learning disabilities or are neurodivergent, or have other physical, emotional, or mental needs that require flexibility. Art is for everyone and I do my best to meet that stringent belief of mine every day that I am in the classroom.

Art with Katie Cordy

The year I was hired as a fine arts teacher was a very momentous time. Nintendo Switches were a rarity. Tiger King was all the rage. Everyone was hoarding toilet paper.

That’s right, the year I became a fine arts teacher was 2020. When I was hired, the schools were switching to teaching purely online. I knew that this was going to be a challenge but I rolled up my sleeves and accepted the job anyway.

To keep parents and students informed and educated, I created a website and a YouTube channel to help tackle the complexities of teaching fine arts virtually. Although both the website and YouTube channel are no longer active, both will remain up and public for anyone who wishes to improve their artistic skills, no matter their age. The website Fine Arts with Ms. Cordy is chock full of resources and also has the videos from Art with Katie Cordy, which you can also see below.