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BHS Teacher Keeps Creativity Alive With Online Art Show

Monica Estabrook
Bloomington High School art teacher Monica Estabrook.

For Bloomington High School art teacher Monica Estabrook, losing the emotional connection she had with her students has been the most challenging aspect of the transition to online learning.

“Technically everything is still available and ready for them and they access it, but emotionally I haven’t been able to really capture them the way I can in a classroom,” said Estabrook. 

Estabrook teaches photography and advanced art studio classes at BHS. She says it has been a fluid transition to online learning because art teachers have already been doing it.

Students at BHS have been doing “one to one” learning—one laptop per student—for the last four years. Since then, art teachers have done technology training to ensure students are keeping up with online assignments.

Art Show Shifts Online

For her advanced art students, all assignments have been switched online, including the planning of the annual Student Art Show. 

“Everyone is welcome to participate,” said Estabrook. “The cool thing about it is … there’s a lot of students that I have never seen in an art classroom and they get a chance to showcase their work.” 

The student art show has been a tradition at BHS for the past 29 years. 

“We didn't want it to stop this year so we decided to create an online (artwork submission) form,” said Estabrook. 

Though Estabrook’s students typically curate the show, she has had to make adjustments. 

“They (students) are helping me make advertisements but I am going to manage putting the show all together on the website just to make it easier,” she said. 

This year, the show will be juried by Tanya Scott of University Galleries in Normal. Scott will choose first, second and third-place winners of each category and choose one art piece for Best in Show. 

The show will open May 7 and can be found at

Staying Flexible

Estabrook says it has been a fluid transition to at-home learning and teaching because of the faculty at District 87. 

“District 87 has been so supportive of our teachers and flexible,” she said. “For one realizing that we have our own families to manage as well as our students. They have really made it known how important we are and how important our safety is.” 

Though she misses her students, Estabrook says she is grateful to be spending time with her family. 

“Because I am an art teacher and a lead teacher I do a lot of stuff outside of my contractual hours,” said Estabrook. “I dedicate a lot of time to my students and all of a sudden all of that came to a halt and my kids are seeing me more and they have really appreciated that. It has helped me realize how valuable it is to have some family time and to not get so worked up in my career.”

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