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Lancaster Teacher Finds Inspiration in Making Videos

Lancaster Teacher Finds Inspiration in Making Videos

From the challenges of teaching during the pandemic, one Lancaster elementary art teacher has found an inspiring new way to connect with her students and a broader audience. If you told Meri Tomasulo-Pellow three years ago that one of the ways she would be enjoying her screened-in porch would be making art tutorials for her YouTube channel, she wouldn’t have believed you.

Mrs. Tomasulo-Pellow has taught elementary art in the Lancaster Central School District since 1997, guiding young students through projects like marbling, clay sculptures, and papier mache. She was a self-described “technology beginner” at the start of the pandemic, but through the support of the “Fab Five” elementary art team, and help from her family, she started making YouTube videos to connect with students at home at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Her first video was “How to Draw a Gumball Machine.” It was a hit with students and resulted in some memorable pieces of student art that may bring up some positive memories during a challenging time for some Lancaster parents.

Building on her experience, during the summer of 2020, she engaged in almost 50 hours of professional development, provided by the District, to hone her technology skills. She then made plans for the new hybrid and remote learning models of the 2020-2021 school year. Tomasulo-Pellow returned to making YouTube videos to supplement live remote, asynchronous and in-person lessons and by the end of the school year she had created 80 videos.

Mrs. Tomasulo-Pellow and her students.

She continued to make videos for her students this school year and over spring recess decided to make her videos public. She named the channel “Art Makes Life Meri,” with the description, “Make your life Meri by making fun art.” Mrs. Tomasulo-Pellow’s students loved that their teacher was a famous YouTuber and celebrated with her when she surpassed 100 subscribers. Her teaching story was recently shared in the New York State Art Teachers Association’s (NYSATA) 2022 Spring/Summer Newsletter.

“I have adapted to the challenges of teaching, and I expect I will always be adapting for years to come. I found a new pathway to achieve a rich teaching experience,” Tomasulo-Pellow said. “It’s always been my intention to inspire my students, but this experience has shown me just how much my students, family, friends, art, and craft help to inspire me.”

Her student artists at Como Park Elementary will see her again in the fall for a new school year. Tomasulo-Pellow now has over 170 subscribers on YouTube and has started a summer reading and art challenge to read 30 books and make 30 art projects in 30 days. To follow along with the challenge or just find a fun activity for the summer, search “Art Makes Life Meri” on YouTube.