Teacher wants to 'give back' with his artwork
Sculpture could be displayed in
Old Town

By Anita L. Sherman

Local art teacher and sculptor Gary Colson was honored at the 18th annual New Teacher Recognition Dinner sponsored by the Fauquier County Committee for Excellence in Education.

Using a grant from the committee, Colson spent two weeks this summer at the Tout Quarry on the Dorset Coast of England studying stone carving.

Tout Quarry is run by The Portland Sculpture Trust and its instructors are descendants from a long line of stone masons and quarrymen who have inhabited this region for centuries.

"I was able to study stone carving with the people who've spent their lives doing this," said Colson.

"The rebuilding of
London in the 1600s, mastered by architect Christopher Wren, was done using stone from this quarry," continued Colson, who noted that the site is now used exclusively as a historical and instructional site where workshops are conducted not only for stone sculptors but artists and botanists alike.

"The quality of light and color is amazing. Some of us were carving, others painting and others were studying the plant and flower life.

"The entire Dorset Coast of England is a geologist's dream, but
Portland in particular is a paradise to a stone sculptor. From its breath-taking coastal cliffs to quarry depths, the natural focal point on the four-mile island is limestone.

Portland has been inhabited for centuries by stone masons and quarrymen and their descendants are happy to pass on their knowledge of this potentially dying art form of stone carving."

Colson, a native of
Fredericksburg , has been teaching in Fauquier County for 10 years. Four of those have been at Liberty High School , where he teaches Art 1 as well as advanced placement art classes.

"When I was in school I was going to be the next great painter, the next Picasso," smiled Colson amiably.

The decision to take a 3D Design class was a turning point, as it exposed him to sculpture. "I found that I was very successful at it and it has become the focal point of my energies."

Colson prepared for his trip by forming a clay model of the sculpture that he planned to work on in stone.

Using principal Mike Wine and one of Grace Miller's kindergarten students as models, he created a work that he entitled "First Steps."

"Actually there should be parenthesis after that it's about big people helping little people," Colson said.

Colson's finished stone sculpture recently arrived in the
United States where he is completing the finishing touches.

"It would be the icing on the cake for me to be able to give this work back to the community that enabled me to go and study in
England ," noted Colson who hopes to have the piece displayed permanently in Warrenton.

Kristi Anzivino, a long-time director on the Excellence in Education Committee, is enthusiastic about helping Colson achieve this goal.

"It is very gratifying to have these teachers return and share their experiences. I am happy that
Gary wants to do this and hopefully we can make it happen," Anzivino said.

Other fellowship award honorees

Colson was honored at the Committee for Excellence dinner along with 10 other teachers who received fellowship awards from the committee.

·  Phyllis Bailey, a teacher for 26 years at Fauquier High School , went to Phoeniz , Ariz. to observe a "jump-start" program for incoming ninth graders.

·  Helen Lathrop, a Fauquier High School biology teacher, organized a five-day water study teacher training program.

·  Nicole Hutt, who teaches French at Fauquier, attended a five-week "Summer Institute in France for Teachers of French."

·  Two teachers from Cedar Lee Middle School, Christina Beavers and Laura Karhan, took a 10-day trip to Egypt to explore the "Historic Legacy of Egypt and the Nile River." They teach history at the school cooperatively and their experience will directly help them address the history Standards of Learning.

·  Lin Wiltse, a special education teacher from Bradley Elementary, along with Deborah Massie, a speech-language pathologist, attended the Lindamood-Bell International Conference in Anaheim , Calif.

·  Cynthia Siira, a special education teacher at Liberty High School , was able to take a ODU Teletechnet course at Lord Fairfax Community College on teaching students with emotional-behavioral disorders.

·  Two fourth grade teachers from James Brumfield Elementary School , Pamela Graves and Elizabeth (Lisa) Webster, were not able to attend the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute for Elementary School Teachers held in July, as it was over-subscribed. However, the committee has agreed to send them next summer.

Since the program was initiated, grants in excess of $120,000 have benefited more than 100 teachers.

The committee wasn't able to fully fund several of the grant requests this year, and its members reached out to the community. Lyndy Hart was instrumental in helping with shipping costs to bring Colson's sculpture back to the
United States , and C. L. "Boots" Ritchie underwrote the entire cost of sending Beavers and Karhan to Egypt .

Anita Sherman is the education writer and may be reached at asherman@timespapers.com.

©Times Community Newspapers 2003