Beall retiring from teaching after 34 years at Coshocton High School

| June 1, 2018

Myrtle Beall is pictured with the door to her classroom that was painted by a former student. She is retiring after 34 years as an art teacher at Coshocton High School.

COSHOCTON – Coshocton High School is losing an art teacher that they have had for the past 34 years. Myrtle Beall has been teaching high school art in Coshocton since the 1984 – 1985 school year and has made the decision to retire this year.

“When I started, there were great teachers here,” said Beall. “I was so thankful they just scooped me up and took me under their wing. Starting out in your first teaching job, especially in high school where you’re only four to five years older than the kids, is challenging.”

Throughout her years at Coshocton High School, she has impacted roughly 5,000 students and also brought new events to the school.

“I was kind of instrumental in starting a few events that kind of brought students and teachers working together,” she said. “A couple of other teachers and myself back in the 1990s did a celebrate diversity program that was a building-wide event. We did that for probably three years. We did Rock the Arts for about three to four years. When I first started, Jon Cotterman and I did a dinner theatre here.”

During her time in the school system, Beall has seen many changes over her 34 years.

“I think it has changed a good bit,” she said. “The State Department of Education has a little more say in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. The kids are different. They’re not necessarily worse than the kids I first started with, but they’re more distracted with all the technology they have and social media. Their attention span is affected by it.”

Beall also remembers when she first started, there were no computers. She said there was a special room in the office where teachers had to fill out their students’ grade cards by hand.

“I never liked grading,” she said. “I think grades are deceptive to what students know. The journey is just as important, if not more important, than the destination.”

Beall said that working with her students and seeing them grow as an artist and a person was very rewarding for her as a teacher.

“I enjoyed working with the students and seeing those lightbulbs go on when they finally got it,” she said. “For a number of years, I used to give a pre-drawing test the first week or two of school. I’d set a still life out and have the kids draw. At the end of the school year, I’d have them draw the same thing. Throughout the year, they’d say, I can’t do this or I’m not learning anything, but when you’d put those two drawings beside each other, they were always amazed by how much they grew.”

Beall believes the students have learned more than they realize from taking an art class and that the arts, art, band, and music, help students who may be struggling at home.

“I think art has become even more and more important as we see kids who are more troubled and who are coming from difficult home situations,” she said. “Students found an outlet to express themselves creatively. It allowed them to get that anxiety, sadness, and the weight they’ve been carrying off of them, even if just for the 40-minute class time. Until society starts to improve, I will continue to see art as a high priority.”

Beall said art is also important when teaching 21 Century skills which involve creativity, working well together, and solving problems.

“In a good art class, that’s what you should be doing,” she said. “Art, band, and music are vital to a student’s well-rounded education. It really prepares them for life outside of these walls. For school systems to eliminate art from their school is a travesty. They’re going in the wrong direction when they do that.”

Throughout the years, Beall’s students have done many things in the community involving art. Her students used to paint business windows in town at Christmas time. They have also done murals in the high school and most recently, painted a 12-foot snow plow for ODOT.

“For me, it’s always been about the kids,” she said. “There are definitely those students who stand out that you are not going to forget. Over the years, I’ve learned that balance between being too firm and not firm enough in the classroom. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. Choose your battles. Relationships are very important. The more you get to know a kid and they feel comfortable with you and you gain that mutual respect, the harder they work for you and the better behaved they’re going to be.”

Beall’s passion for art was ignited at an early age when her mother sold Studio Girl, a forerunner to Avon. While visiting clients, Beall’s mother used to take along pencils and paper for her daughter to draw on while she took care of her clients. She also remembers building dinosaurs with modeling clay when she was five or six years old.

“I remember getting the Sears catalogue and cutting out the models in the lingerie section and we would glue them to cardboard from cereal boxes and then we would make their clothes,” she said. “That was our paper dolls.”

During her retirement, Beall will be continuing her painting classes once a month at the Frame Shop. Her next one will be June 21 at 6 p.m. Call the Frame Shop to RSVP or on the class’ Facebook page, Hopscotch Inspirational Studio. Beall is also working on a small art studio at home so that she can continue being creative. She will be starting a series of paintings dedicated to her mom and will hopefully have a show entitled “Me and My Mother’s Love” featuring those paintings in the future. She is also having a Myrtle Beall Alumni Show at the Pomerene Center for the Arts next May. Any former student of Beall’s is welcome to submit a piece. More details about the show will be published later.

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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