School’s out!


  It’s summertime, and that means the school is out. Another school year has gone by for my kids. This year has been a challenging year for them. We had move to a new place. Although it wasn’t a long distance move, they needed to switch school. I remember my 9-year-old was upset and struggling because he wasn't used to the new school, new teacher, and new friends. He was having problem with this one specific kid who ends up being his best friend. I am proud of my kids’ growth in the midst of change and were able to adapt and perform well in the new environment. Of course, it won’t be possible if it wasn’t for my wife’s care and support throughout the school years, keeping the kids well fed and helping with their homework after school. However, besides their mother, each of my kids has another important person in this school year who guided and took care of them during the day - their teacher.

  I am grateful that most of my kid’s teachers have been loving, patient, and dedicated. They spent an year with my kids, and that’s no small feat! I love my kids, but I can barely handle them for a few hours alone. Imagine I am stuck in a room with 10-15 of them! Moreover, I have to be able to give them individual attention and keep track of their progress throughout the year. Twice a year they have to deal with the pressure of talking to each of their students’ parents about their child. After all of that, they need to go home and take care of their own kids. The more I think about it, the more respect and appreciation I have for their teachers. This is why I do a portrait of their teacher each year. It’s just a small gesture from me to show my appreciation. 

 As an artist, I don’t want to paint the negative in the world. There are many social commentary art and literature out there that’s spreading anger, criticism, sarcasm, or even hate.  I respect artists who want to make a difference in the world, and I do believe everyone has a different way of doing it.  However, my calling as an artist has always been about celebrating the good and the beauty of things that many might have overlooked. We are living in such an overwhelming time. Internet and media are like floodgates of information that open every day trying to drown us. In the midst of that, I want to elevate the everyday individuals who matter to us. Celebrate the fond memories that shape the good and love in us. Painting my children’s teacher is something I committed to every year. I hope every time when the teachers see the art I given to them, they will be reminded that they are appreciated and how important they are to each child in their classes.

 I want to end this week’s blend with a poem Katrina wrote to us the parents. Katrina is my 9-year-old’s second-grade teacher. Every time I read this poem my eyes well up, and I want to share this with you:

I give you back your child, the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then they were then. Although he/she would have attained their growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch him/her personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development. I give him/her back reluctantly, for having spent months together in the narrow confines of a crowded classroom, we have grown close, have become a part of each other, and we shall always retain a little of each other. Ten years from now if we met on the street, your child and I, a light will shine to our eyes, a smile to our lips, and we shall feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today. We have lived, loved, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/her back I must. Take care of them, for they are precious. Remember that I shall always be interested in your child and their destiny, wherever they go, whatever they do, whoever they become. His/Her joys and sorrows, I’ll be happy to share. I shall always be their friend.
— Katrina