Features

New Redlands East Valley art and sculpture teacher leads students to freely express and improve their artistic abilities

By MIRIAM YORDANOS

Learning to adjust from in-person teachings to remote teaching is a challenge for many teachers. Taylor Hammond finds himself joining Redlands East Valley during the 2020-2021 school year and adjusting to the new school and teaching virtual in a subject that typically requires materials provided in a classroom. 

Hammond received his education from Cal State Fullerton, gaining a degree in Studio Art. Furthermore, he got his credential and M.Ed. through National University, while simultaneously raising kids and working. Yet, he never prepared for a situation like this. 

Hammond describes the “whirlwind ride” of distance learning and opens up about the challenges of adjusting his curriculum as the days go by, rather than planning out his curriculum during the summer like most teachers.

“Passing out supply bags didn’t work out, and so many cameras made me feel a bit like a zoo animal on a live video feed!” said Hammond, “But, we have some really talented and empathetic students. I will never forget the kids who care enough to show their face and say good morning, they should be our next student leaders!“  

While helping younger generations develop their art skills, Hammond is quite artistic himself, theatrically, musically and visually. He had played previously in shows as a lead singer and guitarist of a rock band and Coach Bolton in High School Musical. In his free time, he enjoys showing his artworks to galleries in Downtown Los Angeles. He is also fond of writing poetry and fiction.

A photo of Hammond and his family at an outing. His family shares a love for the arts (Photo credit to Taylor Hammond).

“Art is a window to the world within us, and the world outside us. I love seeing how student’s unique personalities and interests influence their visual expression,” said Hammond, “We live in a material world that doesn’t seem to care about our feelings, but art requires us to bring our feelings both to creating and experiencing it. In a dull, anesthetic world, aesthetic experiences remind us to be grateful for the moment and to feel fully alive.”

Along with creating art, he loves spending time with his family, from playing video games with his son to seeing theatre productions with his wife and daughter. 

The family of four commonly share a love of the arts. After graduating high school, his daughter plans to learn more about costume designs and his 12-year-old son is currently a digital artist. Meanwhile, in their town of Nuevo, Hammond, him and his wife, a theatre teacher, have created the Nuevo Arts Council to support the arts in their communities.  

Hammond cites becoming a father had, ultimately, inspired him to become a teacher.

 “I had pictured myself as either a Hollywood big shot or hopeless Bohemian until thankfully, I met my wife at college. Once we decided we were having a family, I started thinking more about the big picture of preparing the way for the next generation,” said Hammond.

After working various positions in education full-time for over 13 years, being a substitute solidified his decision as he enjoyed helping kids grow in their skills.

His classes have seemingly impacted his students. Melody Kamgar, a junior at Redlands East Valley, shared how she improved as an artist with his “encouraging, optimistic and passionate self.”

 “My favorite thing has got to be the assignments he assigns because usually he just gives us an art style and really gives us the freedom to draw something we like,” said Kamgar.

Hammond is grateful to have the opportunity to give back through teaching and a member of the Wildcat family. He shares how he felt like an awkward and lonely child, yet music and art teachers connected him with his talents. 

 “Teaching helps me be the person I needed when I was young,” said Hammond. “I think many of us struggle with guilt over having privilege; I don’t see how guilt helps anyone. Just spread that privilege around to others through a life of service, and no guilt necessary.” 

Categories: Features

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