We challenged America to submit to be the IMA’s next top blogger and America answered. Over the course of the next month, we’ll post the finalists in the IMA’s “So You Think You Can Blog” contest. After we’ve posted all five entries, we’ll let our blog readers vote for the winner. This week: Meet Heather McAlister.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born on a cold January day in 19—oops; I don’t think you really want my life history, right? I’ll just give you the highlights. I’m a 30-something who has lived in Indianapolis for nearly 13 years. I work for a large International non-profit organization where I develop, implement, and deploy leadership and educational materials. This really means I think up creative ways to educate those who serve the organization and inspire them to be great leaders. The members then send me emails or call to say either A.) They love the materials I’ve created, it’s the best stuff they have ever seen, and I’m a genius or B.) They tell me what I’ve written is useless and how could I dare change something that was obviously already perfect and they can’t believe I didn’t consult them when I considered a rewrite.
I’ve learned I am either loved or hated for my work, but you can’t win them all and I need to support my Starbucks habit somehow. Prior to my foray into the non-profit world, I was a teacher for 11 years. Most of the time I loved it, but then, I started to love it less and less. It’s sort of akin to a relationship. You know you love the person, but you soon realize even love won’t keep you from wanting to beat them senseless with a cast-iron skillet when they do things that annoy you and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t ignore them. I think I stayed as long as I did because I always had an excuse to buy new crayons and markers in August. Yes, I went into teaching because I love the smell of new crayons and freshly sharpened pencils. I’m creative—I paint pottery and make greeting cards. I sing in the church choir. I am training for my second Mini Marathon—mostly to see if maybe this year I don’t lose four toenails.
I’m also addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks Hot Chocolate (Ho Cho in Diva World), and my iPhone. Eventually, I would love to write full time. I aspire to be best friends with Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black, so we can sit around and snark on people, write about it and get paid. Until that time comes, I’ll keep my comments to myself and occasionally my Facebook page because really, how does anyone expect me to keep all of this in all the time? I can only keep my ADHD tendencies under control for so long before it all just comes gushing out.
Tell us a story.
In my former life as a teacher, I brought a group of students to IMA on a field trip. Did I mention these students were in Kindergarten? Yes, they were and if you know anything about Kindergarten students, they love to touch everything. They also have a million questions and at least one of them always has to use the bathroom at any given point in time. I knew the field trip would either be wildly successful or a disaster of epic proportions because with that group of students there was no in-between.
During the car ride (I had 10 students in my class—the art teacher and I drove our cars) I went over the museum rules with the kids and we discussed the artists they had studied. They however, seemed to be more enthralled with riding in my car and listening to Radio Disney. Yet, as soon as we entered the grounds of the art museum, their behavior changed. They were pointing out the different sculptures, asking questions and making observations. The excitement shifted from “Hey, I’m riding in my teacher’s car” to “WOW! How did they do that?” and “That’s the LOVE sculpture! We saw that in class!” We participated in the Learning to Look: Art Basics tour, which was perfect because not only did the students have the chance to explore the “basic elements of a work of art while discovering shapes, colors, materials, and other design elements” and see various works of art, they were able to make the connection that what they were learning wasn’t just used at school. The students were attentive for the docent. They looked with their eyes and didn’t touch with their hands. They asked great questions and the connections they were able to make between the different works of art they saw and what they had learned was mind blowing, hearing it come from a six-year-old.
It made me realize just how much they had soaked up in the months we had spent together in school. These students who loved to squirm around during Math and get rowdy during Reading and Phonics really “got it!” Their favorite exhibit was Acton by James Turrell. I think my group spent ten minutes just standing in the room, looking, wondering and trying to figure out the optical illusion. Students who loved to talk all the time were silent. They stood in awe, just looking and trying to figure it out. It was amazing. I stood there just watching them, thinking “Wow, I’m one lucky teacher!” and then I heard “MISS MCALISTER I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW!” Bam! Your reality check has arrived! Thankfully, everyone made it to the bathroom in time. No need for any janitorial services in the Turrell exhibit. I think the field trip really opened an entire new world up to my students. They actually asked their parents if they would take them back to IMA so they could see more exhibits. The field trip to IMA helped them realize art wasn’t just something they did twice a week at school. Art is everywhere, in many forms and they could be artists, too.
Why should you be an IMA blogger?
Duh! Because I’m fabulous! Seriously, I really appreciate art. I like to create. I have an opinion… about everything. I’m wicked funny. I will keep readers talking— Interest in the IMA website will increase! Sometimes they will love me; sometimes they will want to hit me over the head with a cast-iron skillet. I need another creative outlet aside from my Facebook page, card making and pottery painting. Since I am going to need some more material for that book I will write one day, what better way to start gathering material and paying my dues than being the IMA blogger?
Who knows what could happen? One day, I’m the IMA blogger, the next day famous author. It could happen and if it doesn’t, I’ll just write snarky remarks about you on my Facebook page. Oh, and by the way, I will be opting for the crown which was offered in the call for bloggers. Diva’s love all things shiny and fabulous. Plus, then I can walk around the grounds of the IMA and work on my “princess parade wave” while balancing said crown atop my head because when I am a famous author, I will have to ride in some parade and I need to start practicing now so I don’t look like a fool later!