HSE art teacher builds adaptive art class for special education students

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This article was published on WISHTV by Brenna Donnelly on January 28, 2021.

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — One art teacher at Hamilton Southeastern High School is truly living the cliche: ‘art is for everyone.’

Mr. Dan Moosbrugger recently created a peer mentoring art class, combing general education students and HSE’s “Exceptional Learner” students, or those with moderate to severe disabilities. The class continues even though HSE high school is running virtually.

Two students, Bridget Bell and Olivia Schenck, were paired up and began making art together. Schenck explains Bell was shy at first, only answering her with one word replies and was hesitant to participate. Schenck, herself, says she preferred engineering and science classes.

“I was nervous for the first time,” said Bell.

“I asked her if she wanted to play music and she said yes, so we turned on ‘Cheesebuger in Paradise’ which is her favorite song ever,” explained Schenck, “and she was dancing and I was dancing, and all of a sudden out of nowhere Mr. Moose starts dancing. He said I have never danced in a class in my entire educational career.”

She said it helped all the students relax and allow themselves to be creative, and make friendships. Schenck said it all started with Mr. Moose.

“Seeing his passion light up and what he does for his students, it’s mind blowing and it’s just beautiful, too,” said Schenck.

Schenck explained Mr. Moose had noticed an adaptive physical education class for Exceptional Learners but no art class. So, he adapted one just for them so they could have a creative outlet.

“Oh I love it. It’s just, it’s so good for your heart to see. Everybody just wants to be accepted and loved and just to see my students being accepted for who they are is a really cool thing,” explained special education teacher Risa Petty.

Petty also said in addition to new friendships and a new artistic passion, her students are showing improvement with focus, attention span and confidence.

“I feel awesome,” said Bell. “I feel generous and confident to be a nice strong woman.”

Mr. Moosbrugger was nominated for the Golden Apple Award by the HSE art department chair, Angela Fritz.

“Art is personal and collective, art is communication,” said Fritz “Dan is somebody that leads with his heart. He’s a very empathetic educator. He means it, he believes it and he’s showing these peer tutors how to find that.”

So our Golden Apple team organized a surprise with HSEHS administration to surprise Mr. Moosbrugger in front of the school with the Exceptional Learners and dozens of school staff members there to cheer him on.

“I really appreciate it,” said Moosbrugger after receiving the news from WISHT-TV’s Brenna Donnelly, “I just do what I love and show up, I guess.”

Bailey Wood from sponsor Bailey and Wood Mortgage Lender presented him with a $500 check and a golden trophy. Moosbrugger then watched his nomination video, featuring art student Chloe Holtz and Exceptional Learner Madison Williams.

“It’s just incredible. You don’t realize what you’re doing and you show up and try to be consistent. Things aren’t easy for anybody right now, but when you’ve got people like this behind you it’s easier,” said Moosbrugger.