After teaching at Parkview Middle School, Corey Ridings adds a new element to Jeffersonville High School’s art program.
Transitioning from a comfort zone can be a challenge, especially if it was for a long period of time. For Corey Ridings, former art teacher at Parkview Middle School, coming to Jeff High this year has been a new but good adjustment. After teaching at Parkview for 18 years, he decided to take the opportunity for a new change. As Mr. Ridings has said, “ So far, so good.” Boosting creativity around Jeff High might just be what we need.
Mr. Ridings had always wanted to coach Varsity basketball. He had played basketball growing up, and it was always something he planned to do. To be a coach of any sport you have to have a teaching license. This is what led him to art. He enjoyed coaching, but he wasn’t committed like he should have been. “Gradually, about halfway through my teaching career … I started to be more passionate about art and in the process less about coaching.” At this point he knew that his initial future plan had changed direction.
His transition from teaching middle school students and then coming to Jeff High had been somewhat of an easy one. His reasons were, “I wanted to see what it was like to work with kids at a higher level,” says Ridings. “I needed a change,” he added.
He also enjoys working with students who have varying degrees of passion about art. “In middle school you’ve got a lot of kids that get art no matter what, and you still get that here a little bit. You have students who fall under the category of them getting art, and then you have the students who have no art background, and have to figure out a way to connect with them.”
He also works with students who are more experienced. “When you get into painting and drawing in upper level classes, you generally are going to get students who are passionate about art.” There is a constant flow of creativity. The colors draw people in, and captivate them. When there is time put into something, and there is passion, it can create something of meaning. “I try to teach them things so that if they see me in 20 years, something I said meant something to them.”
Regardless of what level students are at, Ridings says his priority is “quality over quantity.” . He explains, “My philosophy on teaching, especially with art, is it’s not just about getting something done, turning it in and getting a grade. It’s about mastering what the content is we are working on.” This gives the students the opportunity to work on something until that skill is mastered. This takes time and dedication, especially if it’s something you enjoy. You aren’t tested on your ability to do something, it’s more of the progression of your work and if there is improvement.
Ridings also looks for opportunities to boost creativity. In the past, he used meditation at the beginning of class to open the students’ minds and really boost that creative side of the brain. He hasn’t really seen an opening where that is needed for his high school students, so he’s not quite sure if he’ll bring that back. With the pandemic going on, he has focused more on how to communicate with students online and the way that each student approaches their art. All different, but all beautifully put together.
Story by Anna Hardin