by Julie Lineback
One study abroad trip to France didn’t just change Laurie Eurich’s life. It set in motion a domino effect that would influence generations to come.
Eurich wasn’t your traditional college student when she came to the University of West Georgia. She was a young single mother when she went West after earning her associate degree at Gordon State.
“I didn’t have that average college experience,” said Eurich, who graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. “I was stuck between being an adult, still being a college student and being a mom. The adults I was around helped shaped the person – and the educator – I was going to be.”
One such person was the former chair of the UWG art department, Bruce Bobick. Eurich described a study abroad trip to Bayeux, France, led by Bobick, as a turning point in her life. While in France, the American students studied art history and watercolor, visited an arts elementary school and were able to explore the school’s lesson plans.
“It was an amazing experience to study art education in the U.S. and then to actually go to the heart of it and see all these historical pieces,” she recalled. “Then, we went to an actual school where these little kids could see these masterpieces in person. It was surreal – I came back and knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.”
Today, more than a decade later, Eurich is an art educator at Spalding High School in Griffin, Georgia. For the past 10 years, she has been exposing high schoolers to masterpieces all over the country.
“After going on the European trip, I knew I wanted to teach high school, and I knew I’d eventually want to start a program where we travel around,” she said. “Spalding students already had an opportunity to go to Europe through the history department, so I started taking them to New York.”
Aside from the regular touristy spots, the trips were all about the fine arts, including attending two Broadway shows where theatre students could tour backstage set designs and have a master class with a performing Broadway artist who taught them something from one of the night’s shows.
“We’d also go on graffiti tours and really get into the nitty-gritty of what makes art thrive in the inner cities,” Eurich said.
In addition to the Big Apple, the program has also traveled to Chicago and San Francisco and will soon travel to Los Angeles.
Eurich sees one of the benefits of the program is that it allows her students a glimpse outside their town.
“I still have kids who have never been to Atlanta, and we’re close by,” she acknowledged. “So for us to get out of state is huge for them. The most eclectic people are the ones who pull a community together with their art. My students see how theatre and fine arts bring communities together and how these real artists make communities thrive.”
Another advantage of Eurich’s program?
“The faculty and the students form a completely different type of relationship outside school,” said Eurich, who explained her program is cross-curricular. “Teachers wouldn’t have formed the relationships with art students they do when we are spending four days together exploring the arts in a completely different city.”
Another goal she has tasked herself with is to ensure her students are ready for the next step.
“The first time I was involved in an art critique was at UWG, and I was terrified,” Eurich concluded. “It wasn’t horrible; I just was so unprepared for it. I told myself not one of my students would ever go to a higher education art discussion and not know what to do. I wouldn’t have that opportunity if I hadn’t gone to West Georgia.”
Photography submittedPosted on