In early March, Danville North Elementary art teacher Katie Pourcho brought 33 students to the Indiana Statehouse to see their work on display.
That work was a culmination of many months, preparing a walking art gallery and a picture of Pourcho’s journey of becoming 2020’s Teacher of the Year.
Creating a Masterpiece
When Pourcho learned she had received Indiana’s Teacher of the Year title in 2020, she knew she wanted to bring her art students along for the ride.
“I decided to become a walking art gallery and use my clothing as my canvas,” Pourcho says. “I commissioned my kids to design briefcases, shoes, shirts, dresses and more. Some of the pieces came from selected students and others were an entire class.”
The Journey of a Teacher of the Year
While some of the process was cancelled or delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students continued to work on pieces. Students knew Pourcho would have the opportunity to wear a dress to the White House, and another piece to the celebratory gala in Washington, D.C.
“I was able to attend Space Camp in the summer, wearing a galaxy-inspired blazer, and I brought a designed briefcase to the Google headquarters,” Pourcho says.
The grand finale was walking into the White House with an outfit designed by her students: a pair of painted shoes, custom designed earrings, custom purse and kid-designed dress.
Making Art a Statement
“At each event, I tried to represent our artists,” Pourcho says. “I met President Biden and the First Lady for all but a few seconds, and I met with several senators in less than a minute, but because I was wearing clothing that had kids’ hands all over it, it was speaking for me in so many ways.”
Visitors to the Indiana Statehouse can see four complete outfits and a variety of accessory pieces designed by Pourcho’s Danville North Elementary students, now and through the month of March 2022. Pourcho says it’s the perfect way to show how fashion can speak without words.
“This process showed the kids different career pathways,” Pourcho says. “They got to see how commissioning works, and they got to see their work come to life. It’s always been really important to me for students and the community to see what small hands can create. There’s so much power in that. With such little time with such important people, fashion has the power to make a statement when words aren’t enough.”