WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The cafeteria inside Alderman Elementary School looks more like a high-end grocery store with chalk drawings of vegetables and other healthy food options.
They were painted by Megan Prey who teaches art to hundreds of students at the K-5 school.
During the summer break, she volunteered numerous hours to paint enormous murals to replace the dated ones on display for decades.
Prey has taught at the New Hanover County school for the last four years.
She stores her students’ artwork and supplies in a corner of the cafeteria because there’s not enough room for her to have a dedicated classroom to teach art.
“They’ve all become regular general classrooms,” she said. “I have a cart and a drying rack on wheels, and I go where they are.”
As for those colorful chalk murals, school staff and students really appreciate the fresh new feel they’ve given the cafeteria.
“Her vision in that was to make the cafeteria a more pleasant place for students to be so maybe they could enjoy their lunch a lot better,” said Alderman Elementary School Assistant Principal Dale Miller.
During our surprise visit to the school, Prey was teaching kindergarten students about lines and she introduced them to the famous abstract artist Kandinsky.
“So we’re going to be making our own paintings similar to these where you listen to the music and paint what you feel,” Prey told her students.
Within minutes, they were dabbing paintbrushes in thick black paint and creating all sorts of straight and squiggly lines on paper.
“I think art in itself is important because our society is becoming more visual,” Prey said.
But she also lends a hand to help students here in other ways.
“She’s built wonderful relationships with the students and even outside of the art you can catch her tutoring, she goes into the classes and helps with not just the artwork but the academics as well,” Miller said.
So how does it feel to be ‘Teacher of the Week?’
“It feels great,” and she added, “It kinda reinforces everything that I’ve been doing.”
Before she became an art teacher, Prey worked for years as a jeweler.
“Doing jewelry design and repairs everything is visual,” she said. “So I like to teach all my students all the career options that are available too if they are interested in the arts. Your options are not just artist and art teacher. There’s a whole variety of options.”
Prey says art provides children another way to showcase their creativity.
“Also, it gives some of these children that are not successful in their core subjects a way to succeed in a different way.”
If you would like to nominate someone for ‘Teacher of the Week,’ click here to submit a nomination. Remember, we need you to be as descriptive as possible. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card compliments of WWAY and Wilmington Granite.