There’s a serene, Zen-like quality to Steve Hamann. When you meet him, he’s relaxed – his clothes, his hair, his manner. Even his classroom is calming. He plays soft music and sometimes dims the lights for a tranquil atmosphere. “I like to keep my classroom in a calm state. It helps students become better thinkers and allows them to be more creative,” says Steve, Holmes Middle School art teacher. “We have a calming corner and students are welcome to use it or take a break when needed. I try to keep a peaceful demeanor myself and reiterate to my students that art personally keeps me centered.”
“I’ve had the students who are loud in the hallways come into my class and express their learning in a different way. I’ve also had shy kids come into my class and shine through the creative process.” It’s transformative. The students work on 5-6 projects during the year, working on drawing, painting, sculpting, and digital art, among other media. Throughout the class, Steve talks about the elements of design, art history and famous works of art. He even talks about Social Emotional Awareness components whereby he teaches students to understand and identify their own emotions and instructs them to use art to calm their brains. The students in Steve’s class are expressing themselves in a different, more creative way and displaying their skills through Steve’s guidance.
Steve’s own passion for art was fueled through comic books as a kid growing up in downstate Illinois. That interest led him to pursue an art degree with an education minor at Illinois State University (ISU). He also earned his master’s degree there. Recruited as a substitute for a downstate school, he was later drafted to District 21. Steve has taught for over 20 years in the district and has been at Holmes Middle School for the last six. “District 21 is very supportive of fine arts. Teaching energizes me while allowing me to be around art and support amazing kids through their journey,” says Steve.
Steve’s own family, including his kids, have the creative gene as well. His children are passionate about animation and photography, while his twin brother is an executive creative director at a major advertising agency. “It’s all in the family and it’s therapy for the brain,” says Steve. For a calm brain is a learning brain. And we can learn a lot from Steve and his art.
To view Steve’s professional art, click here.