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From school teacher to a promoter of creativity

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — A mother’s phone call confirmed Jessica Buckwalter’s decision to ditch her career as a public school teacher in favor of opening her own art education facility.
“She thanked me for bringing the sparkle back into her daughter’s eyes,” she said. “She said she had been kind of distant, so that meant a lot.”
Buckwalter hopes that positive impact will spread to all of her students.
After teaching high school art for eight years in public school systems, most recently in Cabarrus County, Buckwalter said she knew it was time to branch out on her own.
“I really felt teaching in itself was a purpose for me rather than just going along with it,” she said. “I thought ‘How could I affect these kids, how could I get to them sooner?’
“I wanted to focus on children who may need a little more creativity and language. I refer to art as a language.”
But the classes aren’t just for children. Adults who might need to come to a “quiet place where they can be loud” are welcome.
“I think it’s therapy, honestly,” Buckwalter said. “It’s a time with yourself doing something new and different.”
• • •
When Buckwalter set out to open the business with her husband, Brian Romans, they were looking for a spot that would spark creativity, and the Salisbury train depot was the perfect fit.
“I’m a huge history buff, so that just adds to the charm,” she said. “It’s awesome because kids walk into a building with high ceilings and we can take a field trip right outside of our back door to the train tracks to study perspective.”
Inside the historic building, Buckwalter teaches everything from painting to cartooning.
“I start off with general projects, but because my classes are so small I’m able to work with each individual and hone in on what they’re interested in.”
Buckwalter said students can come for as many classes as they’d like, but she recommends at least four two-hour blocks.
“I encourage four weeks generally as a minimum because it takes that long to really get into problem-solving and taking a project a step further,” she said. “The longer you are there, the more you create and the more you are exposed to.”
For adults, Buckwalter has hosted several art parties in which they can bring their own food and drinks and relax with a paintbrush in hand.
“It’s been nice to see women who would never do something like this have so much fun,” she said.
Buckwalter is hoping to expand her adult offerings to more ongoing evening classes as she builds her client base.
“It’s been difficult to find people to sign up as adults,” she said. “Kids aren’t afraid of anything really, but adults are more apprehensive.”
• • •
Buckwalter, who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Akron in Ohio, didn’t set out to be a teacher.
She started out as a jeweler right out of college and moved to North Carolina on what she calls a whim.
“It’s not as creative as you think. It’s a lot of setting stones. It’s a very quiet, precise job,” Buckwalter. “I just said, ‘I need something new,’ and literally started asking people about art galleries in the community.”
After countless recommendations that she consider teaching, Buckwalter did just that. And she’s never looked back.
“I was not a teacher, I just threw myself into it and I fell in love with it,” she said. “For me, it’s very intriguing to see how you can give one project to 30 kids and every single one of them will take something different out of it. It just proves that each and every one of us needs to be taught differently.”
Buckwalter decided she could have more of an impact on her students outside of the large public school setting.
“There is a lack of connection there,” she said. “Here, it’s more about teaching the whole student rather than just the art aspect. We’re giving them new experiences.”
Romans said the Salisbury Art Station allows students freedom within the comfort of a class.
“You can’t put creativity in a box and expect it to flourish,” he said. “That’s why it’s more free-form here. … It’s a relaxed atmosphere that is more conductive to creativity.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/ Sarah.SalisburyPost
Salisbury Art Station
Where: 214 Depot St., Salisbury
Coming up: Father’s Day tie painting from 4 to 5:30 p.m. June 14 and 10 to 11:30 a.m. June 15 and 16. Pre-registration required by June 1 so that silk types can be shipped. The event is for students ages six and older and costs $35.
Contact: contact@salisburyartstation.com or 704-754-0853
On the web: www.salisburyartstation.com

Salisbury Art Station
Where: 214 Depot St. 
Coming up: Father’s Day tie painting from 4 to 5:30 p.m. June 14 and 10 to 11:30 a.m. June 15 and 16. Pre-registration required by June 1 so that silk types can be shipped. The event is for students ages 6 and older and costs $35. 
Contact: contact@salisburyartstation.com or 704-754-0853
On the web: www.



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