Thursday, June 10, 1999

Draw on SCPA teacher for inspiration




BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Henry Glover thinks we are going to talk about his remarkable attendance record. And, I suppose, we are. At least at first.

        It is a noteworthy accomplishment, the kind that probably will appear in the Guinness Book of Records some day. Friday, he will complete 57 years of school without missing a single day.

        Not one. Zip. Zero.

        When he wasn't going to school, he was teaching school. His perfect record began in kindergarten in Morehead, Ky., and continued through college and graduate school.

        His string will end at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, where he teaches painting and drawing. He guesses this is an unbroken skein of more than 10,500 days.

        But he has done something more than just show up for work.

        “This may sound kind of dramatic,” SCPA Principal Jeff Brokamp says, “but Hank has saved lives.”

        An art teacher? “Hank believed in the importance of the teacher-student relationship. He fought for kids. Kids knew they could depend on him. And so could I.”

        Artist Joanne Honschopp, a student of his at Woodward High School 37 years ago, says Mr. Glover's class “had substance.” She remembers, especially, learning how to draw.

        “All schools should make drawing a major part of a student's experience, starting as young as possible,” Mr. Glover says.

A practical matter
        Well, Mr. Glover — Hank, if I may — I think you might get an argument about that. Drawing a straight line is fine if you can make a living with it like Joanne. But what if you don't have the talent to be an artist?

        “Everyone should study art,” he says firmly.

        You might have a good time with your charcoal. You might create something pleasing to the eye, but you can't send a kid out into the world expecting his art class to help him with anything important. You know, like managing a stock portfolio or putting a Ford Explorer in the garage. Right?

        “Art,” he tells me politely, “helps a kid to think.” Furthermore, he says most of what we know is based on what we see. Especially kids. And Henry Glover allowed them to see a man who came to work every day, who took his job — and them — seriously. Now what?

        When Mr. Glover, director of SCPA's visual arts department, packs up his gear and leaves SCPA for the last time, he plans to paint. Full time. Every day, we may assume. He works in oils and is hoping to exhibit his work.

        “I tell my students that the art is complete not when the work is finished but when it is put on display.”

Life's lessons
        So, some of Mr. Glover's pupils still are works in progress. They are scholarship students at some of the most prestigious art schools in the country. They are working artists. They are, one must assume, also the owners of stock portfolios.

        “If we can teach kids how to visualize, if we can show them how to exercise that part of their brain, they can do anything,” he insists.

        And what if you can teach kids that when somebody says they'll be someplace, they will? And what if you can teach kids that they should show up for work every day? “I was never sick, so I never took a sick day. It wouldn't have been honest.”

        Plus, he says, he might have missed something. Parents weighing “quality” time with their children against other demands in their lives might want to think about his example. Perhaps Mr. Glover's record — when considered with his accomplishments — can remind us of something very basic.

        Sometimes helping kids begins simply with being there.

        E-mail Laura Pulfer at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call 768-8393. Author of I Beg to Differ, she appears regularly on WVXU-FM (91.7), National Public Radio's Morning Edition and InterMedia's Northern Kentucky Magazine.

        Laura Pulfer's column appears in the Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. E-mail her at laurapulfer@enquirer.com

PULFER ARCHIVE