When Gov. Doug Burgum announced the emergency closing of North Dakota schools in March of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jamestown and Carson art instructor Myra Klein found herself launching a rather unexpected initiative. Concerned that kids wouldn’t have exposure to arts education during a stressful time full of changes, Klein decided to take her teaching skills online, launching her first lesson the Monday following the first school closure announcement.
“It was so funny,” Klein said. “I had never even taken a video with my cellphone before. I certainly didn’t have any equipment. I borrowed encyclopedias and stacked them up with a bowl behind them to act as a tripod!”
Since that day, Klein has held free daily art lessons Monday through Friday on Facebook live so that children can still have access to arts education no matter their schooling situation. Geared for elementary school age, her project-based lessons cover a range of art mediums, including watercolor and acrylic painting, beading, pottery and fiber arts.
As vaccines are being rolled out across the state and hope for getting back to a new normal is in sight, Klein still plans to continue providing her online lessons.
“I have realized that with online lessons my reach is so much further," she said. "I have people as far as Oklahoma and Kansas taking my classes.”
Art with Miss Myra has been selected as the March 2021 grantee of the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation. Its gift of $1,000 will allow Klein to purchase more supplies for lessons as well as additional lighting and equipment.
“I have been upgrading my equipment as I go, but up until now I have been paying for everything myself," she said. "It’s so nice to have the support. I am so excited about this opportunity to make things even more professional.”
The Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for "awesome" ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a non-profit. Applications can be made at awesomefoundation.org/en/chapters/cassclay.