PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Art, music, and even physical education are classes that keep some students engaged at school. These are subjects that often supplement what they learn in core classes. Students in Portsmouth have another way to share their artistic talents.

April Taylor-Martin is an artist, but she is also an educator and leads the visual arts department for Portsmouth City School District. 

Taylor-Martin helps the more than two dozen art educators continue to develop in their careers, refine the curriculum, and create more learning opportunities for students. She says the district values educating the whole child and that includes creative expression. 

“Especially with how stressful things have been post covid,” said Taylor-Martin. “We really want to highlight student accomplishments and visual arts are one-way students can express themselves. They can work through emotions, they can work through concepts and ideas. Those concepts we develop in the art room can help them make connections across all disciplines.”

Often art concepts can connect to core classes like history, science, and mathematics.

Taylor-Martin realizes the impact it makes as she implemented the first exhibition for visual arts students in the city. Students from K to 12 showcased 400 pieces of artwork. Teachers also participated, and their work is displayed at the Book Club on High Street in Portsmouth.

“They are so busy in the classroom maybe they don’t think of themselves as an artist but I’m here to remind them that yes they are very knowledgeable in their field and professionals in their own right,” said Taylor-Martin. “I want to celebrate those accomplishments for them. Help them share their work from the community and this is just the beginning of that.” 

Taylor-Martin says she looks forward to expanding the program this year.