Creating with Peter Reynolds

“Be brave, be creative, never stop drawing, and use your talents to make the world a better place,” declared Peter H. Reynolds to the more than 450 students, community members, and staff at Burbank Elementary School on November 1st. Spearheaded by Burbank art teacher, Nicole Pond, and funded through a generous grant from the Foundation for Belmont Education, students were treated to a hands-on glimpse into the creative process of renowned local author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds is the creator of such works as ish and the dot and illustrator of the well-known Judy Moody series.

Starting with a school-wide assembly, Peter H. Reynolds encouraged children to draw their own “map” of creativity. Reynolds shared his thoughts that creativity comes in many forms, be it a stray mark on a piece of paper or a random thought that occurs while riding on a bus. Students were inspired to be brave and unafraid of making mistakes. Mr. Reynolds cited his own success with his book the dot which began as a sleep-induced doodle, and became a wildly successful children’s book.

Following the school-wide assembly, Peter H. Reynolds visited each of Burbank’s classrooms and spent a few minutes chatting with students and signing books that were funded by the grant to become part of each classroom library. The instruction continued as Mr. Reynolds co-taught all of the 4th grade art classes. These classes, in the process of making hand sewn books of their own, discussed taking risks, learning through mistakes, and utilizing art as a means of inspiring others. Mr. Reynolds highlighted that the creative expression and problem solving necessary in art can also be applied to success in science, business, math, and many other non-academic pursuits.

Much time was spent reinforcing Reynolds’ “just start,” don’t get stymied by the need to be perfect mantra. Burbank’s students ended the day with the knowledge that by being brave and practicing when it comes to art or any other interest they can produce an end-product that, although not always what it was first intended to be, can make an impact and inspire others.