13:33 PM

UHCL's Art School for Children keeps young artists engaged online

Liam Lehnert
Art School for Children student Liam Lehnert says he is still learning a lot about art, despite the online format of the classes.

Budding artist 9-year-old Liam Lehnert has been spending part of his summer home quarantine time drawing, painting and gluing in front of a computer screen. He’s taking online classes at University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Art School for Children, and he’s been paying close attention to the instructions of Art School Director David Moya, who models the day’s lesson for the students and does plenty of examples.

Liam’s mother, Jennifer Lehnert, teaches classes for the Art School for Children, but during the home quarantine necessitated by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, she’s had to watch Moya give lessons on the computer alongside her son. “I actually graduated from UH-Clear Lake’s teacher education program which is where I met Dr. Moya,” she said. “I took his ‘Arts and the Child’ class, where I shared with him that I’d been discouraged from seeking an art teaching degree because there were more jobs for generalists. But he told me it was important to follow my passion and encouraged me to be an art teacher.”

Lehnert said she returned to UHCL, got her master’s degree and her art teaching certification, and has taught at UHCL’s Art School for Children for three semesters. “I’m sad because I can’t teach now, and I’m really eager to get back to it.”

In the meantime, Liam, a student at Frontier Elementary in Angleton Independent School District, has been enrolled in nearly all the summer online classes. “Even though it’s online, I still think he’s gotten a lot out of the classes,” she said. “If you don’t have the materials, Dr. Moya always gives you some options. He’s very responsive to the needs of the group, and each class seems to be better than the last.”

She said that Moya is always encouraging the kids to do their own creations, and gives the kids examples. “He added a little quiz at the end of the lesson, to ask kids what they learned,” she said. “It’s always something about the culture, the element of art they learned, or other aspects of the lesson that he thinks is important. He gets the responses, reviews them and then lets the kids know what were the correct answers. It’s always done with a lot of positivity.”

“Even though some summer programs have decided to allow face to face classes, we wanted to offer a fully virtual and interactive learning experience for families that might not be ready for more public interactions,” Moya said. “I believe we are still able to offer a similar level of rigor, interaction, and learning compared to in person classes from the comfort and safety of home. Initially our program was set for only the month of June, but we are looking to add additional classes in July taught by UHCL students and alumni.”

“My favorite part of the classes is just making the stuff,” Liam said. “I love my Hawaiian art picture (from the Art of the Pacific class). I like the Lorax from the Dr. Seuss class. I feel like I’m learning a lot and I have some friends who are taking the class, too. I’ll be doing this all summer.”

Learn more about UHCL's Art School for Children online.