Jefferson art teacher and family create chalk mural

Toni K. and Ryann Waltert Stansbery with their completed mural at Jefferson Elementary.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–In the classroom, Jefferson Elementary art teacher Wendy Waltert Stansbery works to inspire students everyday. Though Stansbery will not meet with her students in person for the rest of the school year, she found a way to bring art outside to continue to inspire them.

Each week, Jefferson teachers come up with ways to connect with their students. When teachers put up posters, Stansbery knew she had a unique way to contribute. “I thought this would be a good time to do a large drawing on the sidewalk,” she shared.

With favorable weather forecasted for April 19, Stansbery and her two youngest daughters, Toni K., a sixth grader at Jefferson and Ryann, a third grader, searched for images and quotations they could use for their mural, deciding on a butterfly accompanied by the words, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” In two hours, Stansbery and her daughters brought their chalk masterpiece to life.

After creating their drawing, Toni and Ryann felt pleased. “We were exhausted, our hands were sore and were filthy, but we were really excited about the finished work,” remembers Toni. “It was so pretty–I couldn’t wait for everyone to see it.”

Ryann shared Toni’s excitement. “I thought it was awesome because it was so big and colorful,” she chimed in. “I like how Toni had blended some of the colors on the letters, but seriously, I hope it doesn’t rain.”

As their mother and art teacher, Wendy Stansbery took pleasure in seeing her daughters work together to apply what they learned. “They were eager to go to work on it, didn’t complain at all while we worked on it, and were so excited for people to see it when we were done,” she said.

The Stansberys’ art beautified the community for several days. “We hoped it would bring joy in some way, a smile, excitement, maybe inspiration,” emphasized Wendy Stansbery. “We wanted our Jefferson family to know we were thinking of them and to encourage them, and anyone else who would see it, to stay strong.”