LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — A Polk County teacher is using art to teach Black History Month beyond the textbook.
When students enter Ms. Chanique Davis’ art class, they are first met with a calm moment before creativity can take place.
Davis has been teaching art at Lake Alfred Elementary for five years. “I’m very expressive and for me, art is the perfect way to get all of that out,” she said.
Students in her class not only learn lessons about colors but cultures.
The “Box Braid Queen” is one of the newest elaborate door designs, Davis and her students came up with in honor of Black History Month.
“We’ve added some beads to her hair and that was intentional because I have a lot of my students who have beads,” said Davis.
Fifth-grader Maria Lucas is one of the students who helped create the portraits. “The colors just show people that we’re all different and that’s great, it’s amazing,” Lucas said.
Positivity and mental health is this year’s Black History Month door's theme.
“I wanted them to see themselves in a positive light. I wanted them to see themselves happy. I wanted them to know that they are enough,” Davis said.
Another door is a tribute to social media personality and motivational speaker Tabitha Brown.
In 2019, Davis and her students created a door display depicting a girl with Locs that went viral. News outlets from all over the nation picked up her message about spreading the acceptance of natural hair in the black community.
Davis says since then, educators from around the world including Brazil and Germany have contacted her. So, she created an instructional guide that even includes a curriculum on teaching about various cultures.
“These are for teachers, these are for people at their workplace who just want to bring diversity awareness,” Davis said.
Celebrating cultures and opening doors to diversity.