ESS: Rediscovering learning through art

August 21, 2018 Staff Writer


When she transferred to Anderson New Technology High School, a school of 200, Jasmine Phillips had trouble finding the motivation to study and set goals, or the confidence to believe in herself. She never knew her father, and after skipping school and running away from home, she was placed in foster care.

Amy Killingbeck, administrative assistant at New Tech, said that Jasmine’s situation at the time was very negative, that she didn’t love very many things around her or herself.

“Growing up, I [sometimes] see the relationships between my friends and their parents and it’s like, ‘man, I wish I had that,’” Jasmine said.  

Jasmine, now a junior, “didn’t have structure in her life. She could pretty much do whatever she wanted, so if she didn’t like doing something, she just didn’t do it,” said Principal Carol Germano. 

Jasmine would come to school late. She began to fail classes. As she entered her sophomore year, her GPA was below 2.0. 

“I think she was discouraged. Didn’t see the value in education. Didn’t understand why she needed to do it,” Germano said. But with the help of the educators and administrators at New Tech, Jasmine discovered a support system that helped her build confidence and discipline. 

She also found herself drawn to the healing power of art. She picked up a camera and used photography to rediscover her love of learning. 
Jasmine has a natural talent for photography. 

“She’s captured some amazing photos,” Killingbeck said. “I think part of what is going to make her a great photographer is that she’s so patient and still. She’s expressing herself with the beauty she sees in front of her, which could be the birds or the ducks down the road, the cats and the dogs looking out of fences.”

With a lot of hard work, Jasmine brought her grades up to As while finding time to practice photography. 

Jasmine has always been very private, so art has been life changing for her, Killingbeck said. 

“I feel like it saved her life, because she’s seeing beauty when everything before was all dark,” Killingbeck said. “I watched her struggle at school, very closed off to everything, and now she is seeing and expressing life, beauty, and vitality. It’s giving her a purpose.”

“She loves outdoor scenes a lot,” Germano said. “It speaks to her wanting to be free and learning to appreciate everything else that’s out there in the world. It brings me joy when I see her smile, because for the first two years, we didn’t see too much of that.”

Jasmine continues to move forward, revealing her strong and creative nature. Killingbeck said that Jasmine “never makes excuses. She has come far. She has had to figure it out on her own and make choices for herself with not a lot of guidance. She has had to learn to take care of herself and be motivated completely on her own.

“The growth in her has been amazing. I’m not sure that a lot of people could be successful as she is right now with the stepping stones she’s had to take in her entire life,” Killingbeck said.

Jasmine is now thinking about her post-secondary goals. She is considering becoming a freelance photographer and is working as an intern.

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