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Need they remind? Be kind

Elementary art teacher’s impact continues through high school

Forest Hills — Fourth-graders Tristan Dexter and Emma Hull don’t lack for words when describing the concept behind Ada Elementary’s new mural.

“It’s about kindness to everyone,” Emma said. And while some don’t need reminding, she understands that “maybe for some people it comes a little harder. Maybe this mural teaches you that you can go above and beyond.”

Added Tristan: “Nobody’s forcing you to be kind; it’s just the right thing to do. I just watched the movie “Wonder” recently, and there’s a quote in there that said ‘You should always remember to be a little kinder than necessary.’”

Principal Melanie Hoeksema’s proud response: “Both of you are giving me goosebumps right now.”

School-wide Effort

The kindness mural is the creation of 2021 Forest Hills Central High graduates Ayesha Jeddy, Ana Ahmed and Valerie Greenwood. The trio attended Ada Elementary.

Ayesha pitched the idea in the fall of 2019 to elementary art teacher Nicole Pachulski, and started work on it in January 2020. They were halted in March when school buildings shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, and resumed work in November. They painted after school two days a week and finished in April this year.

The threesome were members of Central High’s art club and also painted murals next to teachers’ classroom doors, such as outside Steve Labenz’s history classroom and another in the theme of “The Great Gatsby,” as well as the Ranger mascot inside the school store.

The approximately 4-foot-by-6-foot kindness mural was the trio’s largest project, and took the longest to complete. It includes “feathers” made from card stock that were created by current Ada Elementary students. The mural was placed low on the wall so students can pose with their arms spread like wings.

Art Teacher Impact

Ayesha is attending the University of Michigan this year, pursuing a degree in architecture. Ana is headed to Grand Valley State University and Valerie also is at U of M.

All former students of Pachulski, the three artists “just really wanted to leave something at Ada Elementary,” Ayesha said. 

“My interest in art (in K-12) definitely made me lean more toward architecture. I think elementary school is a place where your teachers can have the most impact on you. At Ada Elementary all the teachers made it so fun to learn, and Mrs. Pachulski’s passion for art really affected me.”

Pachulski said the trio “showed incredible dedication and commitment to this meaningful project. It will have a positive impact on all who see it and inspire students, staff and Ada families to spread kindness to everyone.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio


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