Exploring Passions & Building Character in Middle School Art Class

Exploring Passions & Building Character in Middle School Art Class

The Museum of KIPP Art (MOKA) Showcase + Auction is an annual tradition that celebrates the innovation and creativity of student artists across KIPP SoCal and highlights the importance of providing a well-rounded and immersive arts education.

With the encouragement and mentorship from their art teachers, more than 100 students and alums from across 18 KIPP SoCal schools have been preparing for months to showcase their artwork at the highly-anticipated event on Thursday, June 1, from 6-9 p.m. at the California Science Center.

Among those art teachers nurturing the creative minds of our talented KIPPsters is the ever-inspiring Jordan Pace from KIPP Sol Academy. Since joining the team in 2021, Jordan has led with love, ignited creativity, and fostered artistic growth as KSOL’s only 7th-grade art teacher. 

In a short time, Jordan has proven to be a pillar of encouragement to her students, similar to how her parents always encouraged her to pursue her passion. Jordan was only three years old when her parents recognized her natural artistic talents and encouraged her to pursue her passion for art. 

Jordan Pace's classroom wall with her father's favorite mantra

To pass on this loving encouragement to her students, Jordan even has an affirming quote on her classroom wall with her father’s favorite mantra: “You can do anything you put your mind to.” This empowering message now serves as a reminder to Jordan and her students. 

“I was always encouraged by my parents to do what makes me happy, and art makes me happy,” she said. “I’m very lucky that my parents supported my passion for art.”

Because of her parents' consistent support and encouragement, Jordan was able to fully embrace and lean into her artistic side growing up. And her commitment to art only deepened even more when it came time for college, and she quickly gravitated toward becoming an art teacher. Fueled by her passion, she received her bachelor’s degree in art education and master’s degree in educational studies from Loyola Marymount University — and now, she gets to continue living out her passion while sparking joy in her students.

Jordan Pace in an art classroom

“The most rewarding part about being an art teacher is seeing the excitement on their faces,” she said. “It feels great to witness students having pride in their art.”

As an art teacher, Jordan enjoys creating a space for her students to thrive artistically and personally by providing and seeking empowering learning experiences, which is why she is extremely dedicated to having her students participate in programs like MOKA. This year, she selected five students to represent KSOL at MOKA and is excited to see their growth once the project is complete. 

“I hope they’re gaining the idea or the understanding that they can do anything they put their mind to. That’s something that’s emphasized in my classroom, and it’s something that I’ve lived by my entire life,” said Jordan. “They really get to see it in action when they can create whatever they want and have other people see it. They realize that they can do this. I can tell them that they can do anything they put their mind to, and they can actually believe it”

MOKA artwork from Jordan Pace's KSOL 7th-grade students

Aside from seeing her students create and present their MOKA masterpieces at the annual showcase, Jordan says her second favorite art project is when her students produce self-portraits to explore and embrace their unique identities. Through this project, her students merge realism with symbolism by having one side of their face feature a lifelike representation of themselves while the other side of their face is a composition of symbols, images, and items that represent their views, beliefs, and individuality.

“Art is the way for experimentation to happen. Students get to experiment with their abilities and their creativity, providing more of an experience than just receiving information in the classroom,” she said. “Getting students to express themselves is not always easy, but when it is encouraged, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Jordan is the perfect example of the profound impact an encouraging and supportive environment can have on a young artist. Art teachers like Jordan, and programs like MOKA, are critical for the holistic development of our scholars. We hope you’ll join us on June 1 to see first-hand how transformative art education can be. 

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