Children's series author 'shouts out' Bates students on social media

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On May 19, Dallas Clayton, artist and author of the "Awesome Book" children's series, surprised students at Bates Middle School by "shouting out" their sidewalk chalk art inspired by his motivational sayings, drawings and book series.

In Clayton's post on Instagram, he included several photos of individuals partaking in uplifting movements. Clayton said, "Friendship Fridays! Thanks far away friends for including me in your colorful curious lives. I hope we learn a lot together!"

According to Jessica Millwood, the art teacher for Bates Middle School, Clayton "strives to bring happiness and positivity to every person and place he encounters."

Because of his encouragement and happiness, Millwood felt the need to shed light on social issues that are in today's society by applying Clayton's inspiring style.

"We discussed the seriousness and relativity of today's social issues," Millwood said, "including racism, sexism, inequality, drug/alcohol abuse, bullying, etc."

After their discussion, Millwood said that she had the students pick a sensitive topic that they felt needed to be talked about. From there, the students created sidewalk chalk creations about their topics all while channeling Dallas Clayton's uplifting mentality illustrated in his work.

Millwood said that "the idea was to either make our school community a warm, happy environment by using positive, uplifting messages or to create awareness with a social issue that a group felt was relevant to our school environment or community."

As an art teacher, Millwood said she feels that it is her duty to show her students the importance of spreading positivity through thoughtful and well-designed chalk creations.

In addition to having her students draw the pieces of art work, Millwood said she prioritizes the sharing and uplifting of her students by virtually showing their art work through social media.

"Social media has become an amazing tool to give praise and celebrate our success and hard work," Millwood said.

According to Cindy Seckel, instructional coach at Bates Middle School, the students' art work was placed on social media through the student run "Bantam Buzzfeed," as well as through hashtags.

Millwood said that with Clayton's 210,000 plus followers on Instagram, the students can "truly feel a complete sense of accomplishment, which ultimately encourages them to push further to attain their goals."

To view Clayton's public addressing to the Bates Middle School students, search "Dallas Clayton @encourager" on Facebook and scroll down to May 19 to view his "shout out." In addition to Facebook, Clayton can be found on Instagram with the handle @dallasclayton.