It’s been about a year since I last updated this blog and while I plan on filling you in on a bit of what I’ve been up to, I’m mostly just looking to highlight a very cool gift I just received.
Jumping back a bit… Upon returning from South Africa in November of 2013 I jumped right into the start of my second season coaching the diving team at Methacton High School, my alma mater. It’s been really great working at the school and the team I coach has been awesome. This past season everyone on the dive team qualified for districts! <- That’s a really good thing!
In February of 2014 I began working at the Belmont Charter School in West Philadelphia. My position there is as a full time building substitute but I’m primarily working with the middle school grades. The team of colleagues I work with are phenomenal, and help make each day a bit better. We’ve been really looking forward to the warmer weather to get back outside to our weekly frisbee golf sessions. So far my teaching career has traversed from rural Pennsylvania, to a township in South Africa and now that I’ve found myself back in my home state working at an inner city school I feel like I’ve seen it all.
Between working at the school in the city and coaching at the school in the suburbs I’ve made sure to find ways to tie in my abroad experiences. Our students in the city are working towards an outward bound trip, this May. The trip will take 40 of our eighth graders on a 5 day adventure either hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail or canoeing down parts of the Delaware River. Although the locations are 8,000 miles apart the idea behind this year’s trip is quite similar to our ReachingOut2TheWorld escapade. Since I’ve been home I’ve shared my stories and experiences with hundreds of students from several schools in the area. Being able to walk my Belmont students through the trips I took in South Africa seems the best way to ease any fear or anxiety they face towards their trip this spring. For most of them it will be the first time being away from home, hiking, camping, and being without their phones and electronics. I think some of the teachers are even a bit nervous. Not me though, I live for that sort of thing, not just being out and about, but sharing the experience with first-timers. There’s not a doubt in my mind that everyone will have a wonderful time!!
Jumping back to diving, because this update does go full circle, I’ve also found some ways to tie in my expeditions. Kevin Roy, a Junior at Methacton, has been diving since his elementary school years. I know this because I was on Methacton’s diving team (8 years ago) when Kevin and his brother first got started. I always knew the Roys were talented athletes but it was just this most recent season that I learned how talented Kevin was with his art.
When Kevin first started showing me some of his art I was impressed right away. His style of choice is pen and ink illustrations as well as water colors and when I saw his talent I knew I needed one of his pieces. His in school assignment was to create a piece that showed an emotion. Kevin and I sat down for a while paging through photos I took and we ended up landing on the one of Ski receiving a hug from a friendly elephant. The quick back story behind that was that out of the 8 boys we took on the ReachingOut2TheWorld trip Ski was the toughest. He was always the hardest to get to crack a smile no matter how much fun he was having. At 14 years old smiling isn’t always the cool look kids are going for. So when it came time for Ski to meet this giant elephant, and then receive a hug from it, there was simply no way he could hold back a grin. It’s one of my favorite photos and certainly holds with it emotion. Now it was just a matter to see what Kevin could do!
This piece in particular took Kevin just over 20 hours to complete and he used BIC Pens for the entire portrait. How amazing is that? He did this with a PEN!
It was important for me to meet up with Kevin before he began working on this piece because I wanted him to know a bit about what was going on in the photos before he started. I’ve always seen art as a process, a journey from the beginning to the end. Often when I look at art I try to imagine how long it may have taken them to create such a piece. Sometimes I wonder where they started or what they were thinking while they worked. Being able to hear from Kevin and receive updates along the way was really cool.
Kevin still has another year of High School before he takes his talents to college, but in the mean time he’s still looking to create more art!
If you’re interested in having one of your own photos done up by an up and coming professional be sure to reach out to him at: KevinRoyArt@gmail.com
In the meantime I’ll be looking to help Kevin set up his own site to show off some of his other work and provide another way for folks to get in touch with him if they have something they’d like done. I can assure you that Kevin is an awesome young man and you will be truly impressed and delighted with what he can do for you! Thanks a lot Kevin!!!