This week’s feature for Teacher of the Year is April Grooms, an art teacher at Wilson Central High School.
Grooms teaches various levels of visual art as well as Advanced Placement studio art at Wilson Central, where she has spent her entire 16-year teaching career.
She attended Middle Tennessee State University, originally majoring in graphic design before eventually earning her degree in art education.
“I have always been interested in art, I have not always wanted to be a teacher,” she said, laughing. “But when I looked back at what made me have a love for art, it was teachers.”
Her teachers gave her the right tools and supported her choice to follow art, so she realized she could be that person for someone else.
“There’s something about teaching that gets in your soul,” she said. “Now I can’t imagine myself doing anything but teaching art.”
Growing up with 12 siblings, Grooms said she needed something to distinguish as her own, so she chose to develop her artistic skills. When she was younger, her family wasn’t supportive of art as a career. Now, she wants her students to see that it is possible.
“It might be the one thing they’re passionate about,” she said. “It might be the one thing that saves them.”
She wants her students to know that they can create anywhere. In the past, artists would flock to large cities like New York in an attempt to show their work; but Nashville and even Wilson County have grown so much over the years in recognizing and celebrating art.
She enjoys seeing what her students bring to the subject.
“I think high schoolers are the most creative people,” she said. “They’re starting to find their voice, they’re starting to find things that make them tick. There’s sort of a fearless aspect.”
Grooms said she is happy the arts are in school because it’s a must for students to have an outlet to express their creativity.
“I feel like that’s probably the biggest responsibility of mine, making them feel comfortable in [class] so they can use their voice,” she said. “Once they start to feel that, it’s some kind of weird magic.”
Grooms has been at Wilson Central for 16 years, which she said has a supportive atmosphere among her colleagues.
“If you think about how much time you spend at work, you’ve got to have a family environment,” she said. “You’ve got to lean on each other.”
She said being chosen as Wilson Central’s Teacher of the Year “blows [her] mind” because she greatly respects the people she works with and the other teachers who were nominated.
“I’m flattered to no end, but I’m also shocked because we’ve got some really cool, really strong teachers.”