La Grande Middle School Spotlight: Creating with Ms. Gisi
If there is a “Jill of All Trades” designation, that title definitely applies to Jessi Gisi, who teaches multiple subjects at La Grande Middle School – art, woods, metals and design. One of her classrooms looks pretty standard, with desks and chairs, but her other classroom across the hall offers even more opportunities for seventh and eighth graders to delve into the world of creating.
One course Gisi teaches is Art, including drawing, painting and clay. When her seventh graders are new to the class, she starts out with fun projects without much pressure, like drawing with your eyes closed or drawing with your non-dominant hand. “I want students to have fun, laugh and realize that if they make mistakes, it’s not a big deal.” She said then they move onto self-portraits, but not necessarily ones that depict their physical characteristics, but more who they are as a person and their interests.
If fine arts aren’t your niche, students can try the design class, which teaches them technical drawing like house plans, bridges and cars that are propelled by carbon dioxide. They are able to test the bridges they build and race the cars in the hallway, always big hits, Gisi said.
Across the hall in the large shop, there are many different types of wood and lots of machines to learn about. Gisi teaches students about safety, tools, good craftsmanship and measuring, which she emphasizes a lot since it’s so important for all projects. Seventh graders make treasure chests and eighth graders construct Adirondack chairs, projects they enjoy taking home.
In the metals class, students work with cold metals, not welding. Gisi explains how students learn how to use multiple tools in the shop to fold the metal and create shapes and containers. “They really like using these tools, because most of them have never seen these before.”
In her third year at LMS, Gisi says her job is busy with so many different mediums to teach, but she enjoys it. “These hands-on class experiences are valuable for students as a break from all their academics. I want them to leave my class learning a new skill and with the confidence to try new things.”