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Jean Ann Savery shapes young lives while teaching them to mold clay into art

Both teacher and student are all smiles as Jean Ann Savery encourages one of her pupils in a Friday afternoon pottery class.

By Angie Gambill

When Jean Ann Savery retired from teaching science at Johnson County Middle School, she didn’t retire from teaching. She only changed venues and gave a slight twist to her curriculum.
Savery now teaches the artistry and, yes, the science of making pottery to eager young students in her fully equipped basement studio at her home.
“If we are making maple leaves in class, then we study the leaf vein patterns, the species, etc. If we’re working on birdhouses, we will research a particular kind of bird so we will know the correct size to make the hole,” says the artist of her craft.
Jean Ann makes and sells her pottery and jewelry under her business name of “Nature Speaks.” When she speaks of her pottery creations, she is quite modest in her self-appraisal. Although she enjoys her work and is quite successful at it, her role of teaching is much more fulfilling for her. Conversation very quickly turns to her pupils.
“I readily admit that I’m not the best,” she says. “My talent is in teaching others.”
A trait shared by most true teachers is that of sacrificing of themselves for the betterment of their students. And Jean Ann is no exception. Making pottery is an expensive undertaking, and many, if not most, children in the area cannot afford the full cost of learning the craft, so she is always looking for ways to defray the financial burden.
The high cost of pottery supplies necessitates charging from $20 to $25 per session, so Savery spends a great deal of her time trying to trim costs for her students. She pays for many expenses herself, has written grants, and requested donations from local businesses and individuals. She even has a couple students that help out with chores around the studio as a part of their tuition.
“I do as much as I can, but the materials still have to be paid for, and there is only so much that I can do,” she says of the scholarships she offers.
Her latest idea is to help the kids market their own wares at the local Farmer’s Market. She hopes that setting up a booth and displaying their handiwork to the public will create some sales for them as well as boost their self-confidence in their talent and hard work.
Jean Ann’s face glows with pride when she talks about her students and their creations. She tells of one young man in her intermediate class that has shown significant talent and a willingness to work hard to accomplish his goals.
“He brought in a picture of a fountain that he wanted to make. He used the techniques he had learned in class to join the pieces together, make the holes for the pipes and impressions for the texture. He is so focused and he did a beautiful job!” said his obviously proud teacher.
Working with one’s hands to create a tangible piece of art provides a sense of accomplishment in someone of any age, but the emotional benefits to a young person are especially far-reaching. Within Jean Ann Savery beats the heart of a teacher and a strong desire to help shape young pliable lives in a positive way while teaching them to mold lumps of clay into useful and beautiful objects. The parallel is unmistakable.
If you would like to help a child attain a greater sense of self-worth and fulfillment, send an email to [email protected] Your donation is tax deductible, and even better, it’s heart warming.