At Devereux, employees are heroes in every sense of the word, helping children, adolescents and adults with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences lead more fulfilling and rewarding lives. These committed and compassionate individuals humbly dedicate themselves to serving – and inspiring – others. Bev Balshaw, Devereux Texas Art Teacher, was recently spotlighted.
In your role, what are your main responsibilities?
I try to enrich my students’ experience with each art activity, beginning at their level of skill, and then encouraging them to push beyond what they are comfortable doing, and moving to that next skill level. Keeping safety in mind at all times, I try to introduce our youth to a variety of art techniques and projects that will not only challenge their skills, but capture their interests. Whenever possible, I try to include a personal aspect into our lessons so students are able to reveal things about themselves in their drawings. My students are unique, at a different stages of learning, and should not be compared to anyone else!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I was told at an early age to find something I truly enjoyed doing, and then find a way to make a living at it. I have always loved drawing, painting and making things out of clay – and I was athletic. I played all sports in high school, and I continue to run marathons, golf, kayak and fish. It was only natural for me to get my college degrees in fine arts and physical education, allowing me the opportunity to pursue the things I love, and still be able to support myself.
After retiring from teaching in public schools, I came to Devereux. I have found I am making a bigger impact here than I ever made in public schools. I try to build a relationship with my students that is built on trust and compassion, so they feel comfortable opening up through (and feeling the therapeutic benefits of) their artwork. Once that bond is established, the kids are excited to express themselves in their artwork.
How has COVID-19 impacted your role? How have you risen to this challenge?
COVID-19 temporarily closed my art room for lessons, so I became dependent on teachers to assist with my art lessons. Supplies are a bit limited, but despite these challenges, I create art folders and work with our teachers to make fun lesson plans for our students. I have also drawn chalk drawings around our campus for the kids to interact with as they move from building to building during the day. I know we will get through this challenge, and eventually, return to a more normal schedule.
How do you demonstrate Servant Leadership principles on a daily basis?
I have made hundreds of face masks for my center. I noticed early on people were saying their ears hurt from the masks, and some were having a hard time breathing through them. In addition, not all people are the same size. I designed a shoestring mask that is adjustable to whoever is wearing it without pulling your ears away from your head. In addition, I started mending our individuals’ clothes, whenever needed, sewing buttons back on and repairing any tears. I try to be available to do whatever is needed, whenever it is needed.
What is one thing your colleagues don’t know about you?
I went to an afterschool clown class, graduated and became a clown named “Stripes.” I taught myself to juggle by reading “The Idiot’s Guide to Juggling.” I also make balloon animals and hats.
Why are you a Healthcare Hero?
I care about my co-workers and my students. I want everyone to be the best that they can be. If there is a need, I will try to help. We are a team, and we work best when we work together.
Visit www.devereux.org for more information