Kennesaw State’s Kenneth Davis (MA, Art and Design, Art Education) Wants to Teach Creativity
School of Art and Design program teaching him to use art education to inspire his own students
KENNESAW, Ga. (Mar 29, 2022) — Kenneth (Kenny) Davis had experienced a lot of the world—literally—before deciding to get his MA in Art and Design, with a concentration in art education, at Kennesaw State University and enrolling in Fall 2021.
He didn’t come to KSU directly after his undergraduate education. After receiving his BFA in textile from Georgia State University, he became a visual merchandising manager, doing window dressing for big retailers such as Nordstrom and New Balance. He says, “It was a really big territory, and I enjoyed the creative environment for many years.” But it took a lot of high energy, and a seemingly never-ending stream of creativity. He was burning out.
He watched as a few of his colleagues became teachers. “My best friend was a teacher in Seoul, South Korea, and she suggested that I go into teaching. I never thought I would be in a place where it would resonate with me, but I was so burned out that I decided to go for it.” After becoming certified as an English teacher, he headed to South Korea for his first teaching job.
It was a big change, but he felt prepared after his training. After a year in Korea, Davis was offered contracts at various schools. He went to China next, then to Thailand, where he stayed for four years as an English teacher in a private school.
“It was in Thailand that the principal noticed that I had a fine arts background, and she asked me to help with different school projects related to Thai holidays and various activities around the school. So, anything related to art, I helped facilitate, whether it was gathering materials, getting my students ready for art-related activities, etc.
“I loved it. It sparked my own inner skills as an artist, and I could also inspire those students.”
He quickly realized that his skills could be used for something bigger than himself. “That’s what sparked me to come back to the United States to further my art education. I really loved the KSU program, as I could utilize art education in a variety of ways. That’s what attracted me to the program,” he says.
Currently, Kenny is a K-5 teacher in an elementary school in Henry County School District. “I love teaching the little ones, but I’m open to all as I leave, as I grow in my career.” His mentor in high school, now retired, was excited to hear of Davis’ plans. “When I told her that I wanted to pursue art education, she said, ‘I couldn’t think of anyone else any better. To teach elementary children, you need energy, and you definitely have that!’”
Davis says it surprised him to learn so much about himself versus what he thought he knew. “I have learned so much about myself and why I make my world view, how I approach my teaching, my choices, what resonates with me, the decisions that I make as far as lessons go.” He credits KSU’s MA program for bringing out his personal world view from the many experiences that have shaped him.
“This program gives you the foundation to become a well-rounded educator. In teaching, we create the examples and guide the students. Being in the program, I now realize I teach creativity, not art. I am facilitating a space for creativity, building confidence in young learners to make choices and be comfortable with those choices,” he says.