Farragut Middle School has added a third art teacher to its faculty fold while, at the same time, starting a National Art Honor Society.
Abigail Malone, previously with Clinton City Schools, was hired this year to teach digital art at FMS.
“It’s a great thing for us to have,” FMS principal Weston Edmonds said. “Due to our increased enrollment, Knox County Schools granted us an additional teaching position and a art class. Having [the art class] focusing on digital art seemed like something our students would have an interest in and would be beneficial to them in their future.
“The benefit to having an additional art teacher is more flexibility in both course offerings and schedule,” he added. “We have students who are very interested in graphic design and digital photography and this seemed like a natural progression in our art program.”
Edmonds said FMS advertised, looking specifically for a teacher who could start the school’s digital art class.
“We interviewed a large number of candidates, but Mrs. Malone just blew us away in her interview with her passion for both kids and her content,” he said. “Additionally, Mrs. Malone had a lot of experience with digital art and her references spoke glowingly about her.”
Malone said she had been teaching art to kindergarteners through sixth-graders in Clinton for the past seven years — then she learned about the opening at FMS.
“I was talking to Heather Casteel with Knox County Schools Fine Arts Department head about a middle school position. I always wanted to go back into the middle school,” she said. “I did my internship in South Doyle Middle School through Knox County, and I really liked the age.
“[Casteel] said there were some middle school positions opening up that I should apply for and there was a media arts position here,” Malone added.
“I expressed to her all the things I was wanting to do as an art educator, and [the position opening at FMS] sounded like a perfect position.”
Malone said she also has been a professional photographer for a number of years.
“I just love photography, and I do my own personal artwork. I’m really active in promoting photography as an art form, and I’m a member of the Knoxville Community Dark Room and Arts and Cultural Alliance,” said Malone, who has a degree in traditional darkroom photography from Carson-Newman University and a master’s degree in art education from The University of Tennessee. She’s had works published, while other works have been displayed at shows.
“I have done some digital art with my kids in fifth and sixth grade but I have always wanted to do more, so I thought this was a great opportunity to actually do that,” she added.
Besides photography, Malone said FMS students would be using computer editing programs to manipulate their photos while trying to create some videos.
“To be able to focus on that is exciting for me, to offer [digital photography] to the kids because they are excited ... it’s a very current media for the kids to use,” she said.
Malone said many of the students have never used an SRL camera — having only done iPhone photography.
“So, it’s very different for them to hold a real camera,” she said. “But, I want to incorporate the iPhone, too. I want to incorporate everything if I can.”
“The response to the new class been very positive,” Edmonds said. “The students have really enjoyed learning about digital art and especially digital photography. We are very excited about the class moving forward and how we can continue to grow the class through fundraising to purchase the necessary equipment for Mrs. Malone to teach all the necessary skills.”
The school celebrates another milestone: starting a National Art Honor Society.
“There’s lots of exciting things happening in the art department [at FMS],” said FMS art teacher Angela McCarter, who started the society at the school.
“I learned about [the honor society] through the [National Art Education Association] that’s affiliated with it,” she added. “I think we are the only middle school in Knox County to have it so far.”
“We just had our first meeting [Aug. 17]. The kids are so excited.”