Feature Teacher - Connie Buckner

Feature Teacher – Connie Buckner
By Cristina Irwin, Superintendent
Licking R-VIII School District

Given a quick stroll down our elementary hallways or a Christmas time visit at any number of homes in Licking, and you might catch a glimpse of Mrs. Connie Buckner’s artistic talent through oils, paints, pencil sketches, or Christmas ornaments. Mrs. Buckner brings color and creativity to our already beautiful town, and she continues to celebrate the magic of design inspiration and a love of art with each of our elementary students.                
Mrs. Buckner started her experience with young children in 1982 when she ran her own in-home daycare for children from birth to age twelve. From 1990-1998, Mrs. Buckner worked for Licking R-VIII School District as a teacher’s aide in the elementary and worked with small groups and individual students on increasing understanding and ability. After student teaching at Raymondville Elementary, Licking R-VIII School District was able to hire Mrs. Buckner as a full-time teacher, and after 29 years in the classroom, Mrs. Buckner continues to volunteer to go above and beyond her job description to help children find an escape, a passion, a talent, and a calling for art.  
Outside of the regular school day, Mrs. Buckner can be found leading Art Club in various activities such as painting inspirational quotes on walls and doors, improving the aesthetics in our campus buildings, or just celebrating multi-media projects in which students show interest. The tiles above Mrs. Buckner’s and students’ heads in the elementary art room were designed and painted by former Art Club students and showcase past students’ personalities, opinions, and memories. Mrs. Buckner is willing to tutor students, talk to them about releasing emotion through artistic expression, and even ensure that they all safely board the buses each afternoon.
When asked about the importance of education and why she continues to serve in her role, Mrs. Buckner says, “A child’s success in learning isn’t always measured by their scores or the grades they receive, but in an improvement upon their work. That ‘smile’ of satisfaction, when they have expressed themselves in a positive way, is what makes being a teacher rewarding. Some children, who may struggle in core classes, can be most successful in Art. I have many former students who use their talents today in the work force. That makes me feel good, to know that I might have had a little influence in the world around us”. We at Licking R-VIII would certainly agree – and recognize that Mrs. Buckner’s circle of influence is much larger than “a little”. Over the past 29 years, Mrs. Buckner says she has noticed a cultural difference in the respect given to the teaching profession. Mrs. Buckner hopes this trend reverses and that our society returns to valuing the selfless work she has seen many friends and colleagues contribute all over the state.
Mrs. Buckner champions for continued dedication to arts programs in schools because it develops creative thinking, problem solving, multiple approaches to situations, self-expression and simple motivation to attend school regularly. When asked by elementary students why she continues to work as an elementary art teacher rather than in high school, Mrs. Buckner reminds students that she had the “big kids” when they were in elementary school, and those students had to learn how to get “out of their comfort zones” and try new things in art, too.
Oil, pencil, or painting are Mrs. Buckner’s favorite mediums. She continues to use her own creativity outside of school and has sold original prints and ornaments and looks forward to doing more contract work in the future. Mrs. Buckner taught adult art classes for 5-6 years and considers doing more of that in the future. Her own passion for art is part of what draws students to Art Club, and each year, the number of interested students exceeds the space, time and resources available, so Mrs. Buckner uses a lottery system. Mrs. Buckner has had many children of former students in class, and she enjoys seeing “familiar features and expressions” when she looks out at her classes. Mrs. Buckner believes this helps build rapport and mutual respect with families because so much history already exists between school and home.
This May, Mrs. Buckner plans to retire from full time teaching, but she plans to continue in many endeavors involving families, art, and the community. When asked about some of her fondest memories, Mrs. Buckner is sure to point out, in addition to children, what a difference adult friends, former staff members, family members, current teammates, and most importantly, God, continue to make in her life. She has stayed in contact with many and always enjoys hearing from more. Mrs. Buckner is surely a friend to many in our small town, and she brightens each day here in Licking R-VIII School District. Although we will miss the color and vibrancy she adds, we know we will continue to see the impact of her work in young artists for generations.



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