Education column: Music teacher organizes art gallery

A sense of anticipation is being felt throughout the district, meaning that school is about start.

Our operations department is wrapping up summer projects or reorganizing ongoing projects.

Our administrative and support staff have returned, and teachers will return full-force next week to finish preparations for this fall’s students, arriving Aug. 22.

We’ll continue reporting on happenings throughout the district during this upcoming school year. Among the number of educational projects and programs that took place over the summer, one new novel project stood out. During this upcoming school year we will have a Traveling Art Gallery as a result of the efforts and initiative of one of our particularly creative teachers, Brian Uerling.

Uerling, music teacher at Blue Ribbon winner Ranchvale Elementary, has been an educator since 1983, teaching at all grade levels — including college — music, choir and band. Uerling is an accomplished vocalist and pianist and has taught in Nebraska, Missouri, northern New Mexico. He joined Clovis schools in 1998.

Enlisting the aid of Cindy Martin, deputy superintendent of instruction, Uerling was able to put the Traveling Art Gallery together, using funds from the New Mexico Elementary Arts Education Program funded under the Fine Arts Education Act. Martin said the schools apply each year for this funding, which also covers supplies for art, theatrical productions; equipment, such as musical instruments, microphones, spotlights; student transportation for arts events; and activities, to name a few.

With Martin’s help, Uerling was able to obtain funding for the Traveling Art Gallery, a collection of masterpieces, comprising 12 pieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Vermeer, Homer, Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Van Gogh, Seurat, Tanner, Picasso, Rivera, and O’Keefe.

The pieces are copies, of course, (since the Louvre would not release the Mona Lisa to our custody), framed and displayed on easels, and will rotate individually throughout our elementary schools during the school year.

The idea is to display the work of art in a prominent place at the school, and teachers, provided with guideline materials developed by Uerling, can share the famous masterpiece with students as an enrichment opportunity, since many students have never or may never have the opportunity to visit the actual museums housing the originals.

Inspired by one of his own elementary teachers, “the incredible Miss Burt,” Uerling shared that Miss Burt, phenomenal art educator, had the ability to uniquely guide inquiring student minds in how to view art and make any student question interesting and valid.

This lends credence to the considerable research that has been conducted on the cognitive benefits of incorporating the arts and the carry-over benefits to regular academics. There are no mandates for teachers; this is just an opportunity to, as Uerling describes it, provide students with the opportunity to “directly engage with” a famous masterpiece, hopefully prompting further interest.

Google’s website, provides actual virtual tours through the most famous museums of world. Free teaching materials and lessons can be found at and

Pablo Picasso remarked: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at