A large pottery kiln in the center of the room cools after a recent firing as students trickle into the art room at Magnolia Specialized Services. Art supplies and finished projects crowd the shelves and line the walls.
The goal of the day is to continue work on the students' most recent pottery project, a butter dish. Class Instructor Lisa Van Donsel tells the group of seven to paint two layers of glaze on their butter dish lids. After she finishes with a few instructions, the students immediately get up to find their paint.
Priscilla takes her seat at the T-shaped table and begins bantering with a few other students working nearby. She likes to kid around and keep people on their toes. The young men around her know her well and respond playfully to her. She laughs, becoming louder and more animated as the conversation continues.
When Priscilla announces that her favorite animal is an octopus, a young man dashes off and then returns with a piece of pottery he has made for her - a large, yellow octopus with a red heart on its head. Priscilla eyes it closely and smiles at her friend.
Priscilla finishes painting the two heavy coats of glaze on her butter dish lid. Then while the other students continue to paint, she finds a sheet of paper and begins to draw.
"I like math. I like to read. I like pottery. And I like to help other folks that can't do stuff for themselves. It makes me feel good," says Priscilla when asked about her favorite things to do. She adds that if she could have any job, she would want to be a nurse because she likes babies.
Priscilla and Instructor Van Donsel have formed a special bond over the past seven years that she has taught Priscilla's class at Magnolia Specialized Services. Their years together allow Van Donsel to give a deeper viewpoint of her student.
She describes Priscilla as a passionate and social person with an artistic flair and adds that having a student with so much energy and interest in turn energizes her as a teacher.
"Priscilla works hard and uses all of her art time. She's interested in every medium and is always eager to find out what we'll be working on in class," Van Donsel says. "She often has ideas of her own and takes the initiative to make them happen."
At The Blue Umbrella, Priscilla's talent, initiative, and love of art now earn her a paycheck. Her paintings, drawings, and pottery are sold in the gift shop. She says it makes her happy that people buy what she makes.
Stop by our shop to check out the pottery from Magnolia Specialized Services. Watch for Priscilla's butter dish for sale.