Aimee Price believes in the creative process for all artists, but she knows it can be especially critical for those in middle school, when thinking outside the box maybe be beneficial, but not always embraced.

Price teaches art to grades 6 – 8 at R. P. Dawkins Middle School in Spartanburg.

“I’m in my 10th year of teaching,” she said. “I’ve only taught here at Dawkins Middle School. I’ve always loved art. I really fell in love with art in high school because I had a really fantastic art teacher. She was inspiring and creative and her classroom was always a safe place.”

That is something Price tries to emulate in her own classroom.

“The first couple of years you try to do things by the book,” she said. “When I really became comfortable, I let loose and really started focusing on the students themselves – really letting them lead.”

Price teaches according to state standards, but within that, she really teaches her students to trust their creativity.

“I get to know the children because I have them all three years,” she said. “By the end of their eighth grade year, I know their siblings and their parents. I go to their games. I recently went to see a ninth grader play tennis. I can’t turn it off. I tell my students all the time that I don’t like to tell them ‘no’ a lot with the creative process. Giving them that freedom, they’ve started to trust me in that. It gives them ownership of that, too. They feel like they can take risks and they end up being successful for it.”

Price is married and is a mom of two young sons. At school, she shepherds hundreds as they learn to embrace their talents, express themselves and challenge their notions of art. Some have been recognized nationally for their efforts. And Price knows she has given them a freedom to learn that will continue beyond middle school.

“I do love my job,” she said.

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“She helped me find the true ‘artist’ in me. She is sooo talented in art. Everyday she asks every one of her students stuff like, ‘how was your day?’ or ‘what did you do over the weekend?’ Little stuff like that just makes your day. The cool thing about her is that she is a teenager at heart! She understands us and worries about us.”

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