With Arts & Entertainment Editor Kathy L. Collins

A love of art and the desire to teach students is what drives Shelly Valdez, an art teacher at Lithia Springs

Madeline Kapsick and Kendra Smith, two of Valdez's fourth grade students, were selected as two of the 10 finalists in the Inaugural Holiday Card Art Exhibit sponsored by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Madeline Kapsick and Kendra Smith, two of Valdez’s fourth grade students, were selected as two of the 10 finalists in the Inaugural Holiday Card Art Exhibit sponsored by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Elementary School in Valrico. Valdez teaches art to students in first through fifth grades. She sees the students for 30 minute classes twice a week.

Valdez said, “Providing students with an art education is invaluable. I have several students tell me each day that they could not wait to come to art. This helps with attendance and liking school in general. Art also builds self-esteem when they create something they love,” Valdez added, “Art also develops higher order thinking when students are young.

It also helps teach them to think outside the box. In their art projects, they are required to come up with a variety of solutions and to look at things from a variety of angles.”

Valdez so believes in the value of art that she encourages her students to get involved in community

events. She recently had two students who were selected for the Inaugural Holiday Card Art Exhibit sponsored by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and held at One Buc Place in Tampa on November 8. Lithia Springs is a Bucs Academy School.

Students were asked to create a card that incorporated the Bucs logo with a holiday theme. The winner’s creation was used as the cover for the Bucs’ official Christmas card.

Valdez said, “While we were not the final design, we were extremely proud of Madeline Kapsick and Kendra Smith, both fourth grade students, who were two of the 10 district-wide finalists.”

In addition, Valdez works with Center Place of Brandon who provides scholarships for students to take a free art class for one month.