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Life Lessons Learned Through Art

August 31, 2012

If a picture is worth a thousand words…then courtesy of Ben Glenn’s art, Brady Middle School students have read volumes.

“I liked it because it’s cool how he makes it in about 10 minutes and it’s giant chalk art,” noted sixth grader Kyle Haddon. “It taught me that you should just be yourself and don’t let anyone change who you are.”

Glenn, known as “the Chalk Guy” was brought to Brady for an all-school assembly and as part of the parents’ Open House that evening. He spoke to the groups about the challenges he faced growing up with ADHD and learning disabilities and created artwork with chalk to exemplify the idea of being courageous enough to find each individual’s unique abilities.

“When I speak with middle school kids, it’s about 85 percent comedy and it’s a great way to open doors and open their minds to the message…that ‘if that weird dude can make it, so can I’,” Said Glenn. “It’s that keep-moving-forward mentality.”

After telling stories about his own childhood and being categorized to the point where he couldn’t and wouldn’t make his own choices, Glenn went to a blank canvas and created gorgeous murals that appeared right before the students’ eyes.

“It was really creative and cool, and I couldn’t even applaud as wowed and as amazed as I was!” effused sixth grader Sadie Begam.

“I liked that he had a good story behind it, and I liked the painting,” said eighth grader Ben Frazier. “It showed everyone something amazing and the special talent that some people have and even though people called him ‘special’ in a mean way or other mean names, he did something beautiful. It was unbelieveable.”

Glenn was brought back to Brady Middle School (he was last here in 2009) through a PTA grant. The murals he created during the assemblies will be hung in the school for students to admire and reflect upon throughout the year.

“I think it’s a good message for teachers to build on in the fact that they are able to take the painting and hang it up and use that as a reference,” Glenn noted. “It’s something I love about my job—leaving a lasting impression in the school.”

Glenn taught the students to conquer their fears, find their voices, and face the future as individuals who have a greater appreciation for what makes them “simply special”.

“My story is very relatable to kids and adults,” he said. “We have these little uglies in our lives that cause these potholes and roadblocks. If we don’t get over them they are going to paralyze us….This is about positively dealing with the challenges these students are starting to face and not giving up.”

And with eyes wide open and a standing ovation offered in appreciation, the Brady students got the message.

“I thought it was really cool and really inspiring, and it was amazing,” said sixth grader Anna Jaffe. “It taught me that you can do whatever you want if you follow your dreams.”


To view the entire slideshow, click on the photo below:

Orange Schools
32000 Chagrin Blvd
Pepper Pike, OH 44124
PHONE: 216.831.8600
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