Student Engagement and Faculty Assistance: LHS Art Teaching Assistants

Janya Utkarsh

At Lexington High School, a great emphasis is placed on the Visual Arts Department. Classes ranging from ceramics to video game design, are part of a larger selection that allow students to explore different artistic styles. Students can pursue independent study in visual arts, enroll in advanced and honors level classes, and even take Advanced Placement Art Studio.

Outside of completing visual arts courses, upperclassmen students can also apply as a Teaching Assistant (TA). TAs in the art department help out in a number of ways depending on the teacher and course. To apply to be an art TA, students must have successfully completed the Foundations of Fine Art or Foundations of Digital Art course, three additional Fine Art courses, and receive permission from the instructor of the class and the Visual Arts department head.

“I am expected to give advice to current students, look over portfolios (artistic critique, formatting text and slides), help clean the studio, take reference photos, and document the student’s process,” Tim Koh, a senior and AP Art Studio TA, said.

TAs, including Koh, discuss and agree on their responsibilities with the teacher whose class they help with.

“Tim sits with the student and discusses ways the student could improve documentation, formatting of their images, and ways of including synthesis of materials to match their chosen topic,” Ashley Grant, a visual arts teacher at LHS, said. 

Many art teachers agree that TAs in art classes are invaluable.

“Teaching AP Art without a TA, while possible, does not allow for each student to receive immediate feedback during the same class time…[Tim’s] suggestions may differ from mine, giving greater options for the work to move forward,” Grant said.

Art educator Jessica Khamarji agrees with this sentiment.

“Students are able to feel more supported and are offered a different perspective when TAs are present… This is especially true since TAs have taken the class before, and have a good understanding of the rubric and expectations,” Khamarji said.

Notably, both students and TAs benefit from interactions in the classroom. 

“Peer teaching is not only helpful for the students receiving the support but also the TA. TAs are asked to frame feedback in constructive ways that they may not have been challenged to do in the past,” Grant said.

On the whole, TAs are an invaluable part of the Art Classrooms at LHS. In turn, TAs find joy in assisting LHS’s artistic student body. 

“The students are the best part. They’re all so hardworking and talented. I can get to know each student’s work and vision. It’s great to gain inspiration on the artistic process,” Koh said.