Communication, Planning and Engagement » Get to Know: Arts in NCPS

Get to Know: Arts in NCPS

Photo of Demetrius Smith

Demetrius Smith

Demetrius Smith, an art teacher at Winstead Avenue Elementary, shares that he “always wanted to be a teacher.” His desire to teach began when he was in high school, but really grew when he was in college. In college, Mr. Smith initially wanted to become a history teacher. He felt like there “was not enough black history in our curriculums in school, but after my first art class, it was over, I knew I wanted to become an art teacher.”


Mr. Smith really loves how Nash County Public Schools values the arts. His school knows that he has to have the proper amount of art supplies to be able to successfully teach all students at Winstead Avenue Elementary. Mr. Smith shares that “Nash County really backs their teachers. I feel like my principal is really good at supporting us as staff, as a person, and a teacher.”


A typical day for Mr. Smith begins with morning duty. He helps get students out of cars in the morning. Not only does Mr. Smith help students out of cars in the morning, but he does so while dancing to music from his boom box. The art teacher says he wants students to “let them know we missed them and appreciate them coming to school.”


When asked what Mr. Smith wants everyone to know about his subject, art, he immediately replies that “art is for everybody.” Art is a “great way to express yourself, and it is in everything.” Mr. Smith integrates all other subjects into his art lesson, from teaching students about recycling to having them build rocket ships out of paper. He wants students, and everyone, to know that “arts in everything.”


Mr. Smith wants all of his students to feel like his classroom is a safe haven. He shares that “any time that a child has a problem or an issue, they can tell me. I think all schools should be safe havens for students, a place where children can come in and be their true authentic selves without feeling like they’re going to be bullied or shamed.” 

Photo of Matthew Ray

Matthew Ray

Matthew Ray, the band director at Southern Nash High School, is currently in his thirteenth year of teaching. Mr. Ray graduated from Southern Nash High School. He shares that he has “always loved music and band.” During college, Mr. Ray was not sure if he wanted to go to school for performing arts or arts education, but a tragic event that made Mr. Ray know he wanted to go into teaching was the passing of his high school band director. Mr. Ray says that he felt “led to follow” his former band director's footsteps and become a band director at the same school he graduated from, Southern Nash High School.


A typical day for Mr. Ray is very busy. His first and second-period classes are concert band, and then his third-period class is jazz band. In addition to all his classes, his after-school hours are filled with rehearsals and weekend band activities. His dedication to the SNHS band is evident. 


“I think it’s important for everyone to know that all of the arts are crucial to a well-rounded education,” says Matthew Ray. He believes that there are “a lot of benefits to the arts, accountability, and responsibility, and so many other great traits that students can learn for life, not just academically” that can come from participation in arts classes.


Photo of Shelly Maloney with students

Shelly Maloney

Shelly Maloney, the Pottery and Visual Arts teacher at Northern Nash High School, has been teaching for a total of 15 years. She shares that she “started off as a contract art teacher and as a part-time hobby, just showing others how to paint and draw.” After a few years of this, Mrs. Maloney realized that it didn’t feel like a job anymore, she knew art was what she was meant to do.

When Mrs. Maloney was asked what she liked best about Nash County Public Schools, she immediately answered that she “loves the community support of the school system.” She shares that “not one business I have approached has closed its doors to allow my students to participate in an art-related project to help beautify their business.” Northern Nash High School students are able to have two arts shows every year in the Imperial Center. Not only that, but Central Hardware in Castalia allowed NNHS students to paint a mural on the side of their building. In addition to the Imperial Center and Central Hardware, Boice Willis pediatrics and the Nash County oncology center allowed NNHS art students to paint ceiling tiles for their patients. Mrs. Maloney says that the “support of the community for this school system is really amazing.”

A typical day for Mrs. Maloney is very busy. She starts her day with intermediate and beginning-level pottery classes. Her classes are followed by club meetings like the National Arts Honors Society, Positive Impact, and Pottery Club. She also does remediation work, which is full of her spending time with students to develop their craft. 

One thing that the dedicated Northern Nash High School art and pottery teacher would like for everyone to know is that art is necessary for “many students, especially now, it is their source of expression, creativity, and emotional release. It is a way for them to be themselves.” Art is “more vital in our curriculum than it has ever been and I see it every day.”

Photo of Shelly MaloneyPhoto of Shelly Maloney


Photo of Kelly Scott

Kelly Scott

Kelly Scott, the dance teacher at Nash Central High School, is in her sixteenth year of teaching. Her entire teaching career has been with Nash County Public Schools.

Mrs. Scott chose dance because she believes that “dance should be accessible to all students. I wanted to teach kids that don’t have the means or the ability to pay for dance outside of school.” Mrs. Scott says that teaching dance in the public school system “gives her the opportunity to reach everybody.” 

“I like that Nash County Public Schools supports the arts and they have made an intentional place for arts in the schools, especially dance,” shares Mrs. Scott. 

A typical day for Mrs. Scott is never dull. The Nash Central High School dance teacher teaches approximately sixty students. Mrs.Scott starts her day with “beginners, and the majority of them have never danced before.” After she finishes her beginner's class for the day, she has her intermediate class, which is a little more advanced than the beginners. Mrs. Scott ends her day with her Honors Proficiency class. To be in this class, students must first take a placement class. To sum up her day, Mrs. Scott says that her day is “all dance, a lot of laughing, but a lot of passionate and creative kids.”

When asked what Mrs. Scott would like everyone to know about her subject, she answers that she would like “people to know that dancing is not just turning around. We are doing so much more than dancing. We support all aspects of formal education.” In Mrs. Scott's class, her students are not only dancing, but they are writing, reading, analyzing, critiquing, and giving feedback. “Dance is so much more than just performing. It is a full subject with its own vocabulary and history,” shares Mrs. Scott.


Photo of Kimberly House

Kimberly House

Kimberly House, the music teacher at Spring Hope Elementary, has been teaching music for 27 years. Mrs. House was inspired to become a music teacher because of her own music teachers. The Spring Hope Elementary music teacher had a couple of very inspiring music teachers in her past, Anne Cobb and Dawn Batts. Not only was she inspired by these teachers, but Mrs. House has always loved singing. 

One thing that Mrs. House likes about Nash County Public Schools is the mentorship she has received throughout her 27 years, from administrators and other teachers. She appreciates the support she has received as a musician. In addition to that she loves how “Nash County Public Schools has always advocated for the arts. My fellow teachers have always supported me in everything I’ve done.” 

A typical day for Mrs. House begins with car duty in the morning. She enjoys being able to welcome students first thing in the morning. After morning duty, Mrs. House begins her day full of teaching. “I teach every grade. I see all grade levels all day long.” During the school day, when Mrs. House is not teaching, she may be preparing for a program or chorus rehearsal. In addition to all of her teaching duties, she also does the yearbook, manages the school’s Facebook page, and is on the Awards Committee. 

“I want to say this, what I love about my job is being able to see kids grow all the way from kindergarten through high school.” Mrs. House is now seeing students whom she taught in kindergarten become really successful as they prepare for college. “It is just awesome to see them succeed,” shares Mrs. House. 

Mrs. House would like for people to know that “music is essential, especially at an elementary school. At an early age, music exposes students to so many different things. It exposes them to different styles of music and different kinds of instruments.” The Spring Hope Elementary music teacher believes that “music is something that we can’t live without. It is something that our students need and can look forward to for the week.”


Photo of Dawn Hamilton

Dawn Hamilton

Dawn Hamilton, an art teacher at Englewood Elementary School, has been teaching for nineteen years at Nash County Public Schools. Mrs. Hamilton states that “I know that I am in my plan and purpose for life. My job is my passion.” 

When Mrs. Hamilton was asked what she likes about Nash County Public Schools she answers that “In Nash County, the art teachers are like family. I can email or text any art teacher for help and they will give me assistance, and I would do the same for them.” Mrs. Hamilton loves the closeness of the county. “I do not feel like a number, I am known and respected by people in my county.”

A typical day for the Englewood Elementary School art teacher begins before 7 o’clock. She comes in early to prep her room for the day and then moves on to her morning car line duty. After her morning duty, she has “interventions with a small group of third graders assisting with reading fluency.” After that, she begins teaching her six art classes. Her art classes consist of students from third through fifth grade. Once all her teaching duties are completed for the day, she assists with van riders for her afternoon duty. Once all of that is completed, she stays until around 4:30 or 5:00 to clean up, decompress, or take down artwork or displays. 

Mrs. Hamilton would like for everyone to know that “in elementary arts, we need to write out lesson plans. We use the state standards. In our plans, we are cross-curricular. We enhance math, science, social studies, and history.” She knows that “the arts are crucial to the development of a child.” The arts are used to “promote muscle development and promote critical thinking skills and creativity.”


Photo of Lindsay Tolentino

Lindsey Tolentino

Lindsey Tolentino, the art teacher at Middlesex Elementary School, has been in the education field for over 15 years and has been teaching art for almost 9 years. Mrs. Tolentino says that she has “loved art ever since she was little. I just wanted to share my love of art with students. That’s why I decided to become a teacher.”

Mrs. Tolentino shares that she likes how “Nash County Public Schools shares the arts. All throughout the year, NCPS has events supporting and promoting the arts.” Nash County Public Schools has events like Afternoon of the Arts, All County Chorus, Band Events, School Art Exhibition, Holiday Art Card contest, and so much more! The Middlesex Elementary Art teacher says that these events give the students of NCPS a “chance to demonstrate our talents to the community.”

A typical day for Mrs. Tolentino begins with her arriving at school for her morning duties in the car line, where she opens the car doors for students and welcomes them to school. Then, she preps her art materials for her classes for the day. This is no small task. This dedicated art teacher teaches around 500 students every week. After school, she typically uses that time to clean up her classroom or take down display artwork in the hallways or put up new artwork.


When Mrs. Tolentino was asked what she wanted people to know about her subject she replied, “I want everyone to know that art is more than just coloring and crafts. We have a curriculum that we have to teach throughout the year.” She also wants everyone to know that art “touches on so many subjects like math, social students, and even language arts.” Not only does art touch on so many subjects but it also teaches students to “focus and listen. It helps us learn from our mistakes and teaches problem-solving skills to the students” Mrs. Tolentino also says that “art lets students express their feelings to others. It is their time to express themselves and use their creativity and find their spark.”


Photo of Charlene Outland

Charlene Outland

Charlene Outland, a band teacher at Rocky Mount Middle School, has been teaching for twenty years. Mrs. Outland says that band was “the one thing in school I did that made me feel special.” Initially, Mrs. Outland did not plan on becoming a band teacher. Although after she taught for one year, she says “these kids are fun! So, it turned into twenty years later.” 

Mrs. Outland likes that Nash County Public Schools gives her the “opportunity to branch out and do different things.” She feels that Rocky Mount Middle school is really starting to build something that will “help all the kids in the county, not just the ones in our program.”

A typical day for Mrs. Charlene Outland is never dull. The Rocky Mount Middle School band teacher arrives early each morning and sometimes there are already students in her classroom practicing their instruments. She begins her school day by teaching two seventh-grade classes, then she has two classes in sixth grade, ending her day with her eighth-grade band class. After school, Mrs. Outland will plan or prepare for a concert or rehearsal if that is in the schedule for the day. 

Something that Mrs. Outland would like everyone to know is that band matters. “It may not be a core-tested subject, but it has so much value.” Mrs. Outland also says that “I love my job and I love my students. That’s what keeps me going. Just building relationships with the kids and helping them be successful at things they never knew they could do is so inspiring.”