MEXICO — Gemma Morrill-Dreher has always liked the sense of wonder and discovery in her art students, and their realization that they are capable of creating beautiful works.
“They gain confidence by creating something with their own two hands, with their heart and mind,” she said as she prepared for Thursday’s annual art show at Meroby Elementary School.
The 25-year teaching veteran will leave her position at the end of the school year. Prior to teaching art, she worked in the library and as a drama coach at Telstar High School for several years.
She decided the time had come to focus more on her own artwork and creativity, as well as to provide more emphasis on collaboration with her husband’s art career.
Dennis Dreher is a working artist who specializes in sculpture and is a visiting professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Morrill-Dreher grew up in Somers, N.Y., and graduated from Central Missouri State University. She and her family moved to Maine in 1973.
She particularly likes working with the upper elementary students.
“They have a sense of confidence. They think they can do it and boy, doesn’t that carry them a long way. They are willing to try,” she said.
Morrill-Dreher works with many forms of media, from paint to printing, to mask making to ceramics. And her students also experiment with each form.
Besides planning to work more with her husband, she also will become more involved in the Pennacook Art Center and the Commons Art Collection. She has a show right at Elements Gallery in Bethel, where she and Dennis live.
Once retired, she may also teach art privately and offer art workshops for adults on a variety of media.
Morrill-Dreher and her husband are the parents of four adult children and six grandchildren.
Meroby Elementary School is losing four longtime teachers when school closes in June, totaling nearly 130 years of classroom experience. Besides Morrill-Dreher, other MES teachers leaving are: special education teacher Rita Aromaa; and elementary teachers Brenda McInnis and Elizabeth Coffin.