Ashley Broderick, who teaches art at Crescent Park and Woodstock elementary schools, had to rethink how to teach art during the pandemic, first turning to YouTube and then to a rolling art cart. Submitted photo

BETHEL — When the pandemic hit, elementary school art teacher Ashley Broderick faced the challenge as would any artist: with a paintbrush.

Broderick teaches K-5 at both Crescent Elementary School and Woodstock Elementary School.

When everyone went remote, she created a YouTube series called Brush Strokes with Mrs. Broderick. It’s a mini video series where students could connect with their art teacher.

“It was a way for them to kind of see me and hear me and we could create something together, kind of distantly. And it was really good to do a new project every week and give kids the opportunity to be creative, which they may do on their own, but some kids may just need a little push,” explains Broderick. “It just good to have that and then be able to check in with them on a weekly basis and see what they made.”

Included in the series was Broderick’s pug, Mimi, who in one episode wore an art smock. In the videos, she would give the students a little history about an artist and introduce them to different ways to use materials.

Once they came back to school, things took a slight twist. Because students couldn’t fit in her classroom and distance appropriately, she packed up an art cart and went from the fifth-grade class to the fourth-grade class, etc., to teach. The students each had their own art materials since no one was allowed to share.


When discussing the importance of an art class, especially during a pandemic, she says, “I think in general kids need a way to express themselves whether it be through music or dance or art just to kind of get out their emotions and the way they are feeling. Because not all people are good at communicating, especially with not being able to see their friends or their teachers. Their routines were all messed up. And so providing them a fun opportunity to create was just a break from the chaos with the pandemic.”

Broderick talks about art being a form of therapy. How a child can pick up a pencil and draw the way they are feeling.

Once everyone was back in person in 2020, the challenge of not having her own classroom still persisted. However, she traveled from classroom to classroom, focusing on art history and different artists who were influential. Each artist they studied had a historical element, and students then created a project based on that artist.

“It was really great to see kids were making connections between different artists and different projects we had done,” says Broderick.

“So we were still able to create and bring an element of art history that I had never brought into the classroom before and it was really good for me to see the connections the kids were making. Especially at kindergarten, to have a kindergartner say that looks like a Pablo Picasso. I think it’s really cool and pretty amazing that a student at that age can recognize that.”

Broderick muses over her favorite part of being an art teacher.

“… Watching the kids grow as artists. Like having this fifth-grade class, they were my first class that I had in kindergarten as a teacher at Crescent Park and Woodstock. Seeing them go from kindergartners to fifth graders, watching their progress, is great to see. I think the excitement that kids have when they’ve done something they’re really proud of, it makes me proud of them,” she finishes with a smile.

Students at Crescent Park and Woodstock elementary schools learn first about an artist, and then about the artist’s work. Submitted photo

Comments are not available on this story.