The teachers at Port Loyola Preschool in Belize City, Belize felt exhausted after a long day in the classroom. Gwendolyn Jones, preschool principal, looked out her office window to see a huge painting of a Bible verse written on the exterior of the school building where offensive graffiti marks used to be. She read the verse, and the words lifted her spirit. She felt encouraged after such a hectic day.
Trista (Watson) Hurst was able to impact her world for Christ when she traveled to Belize City, Belize, in 2006 to re-paint this vandalized school building. Along with the mural of the Bible verse, she also painted kid-themed drawings inside the school for the students. The team Trista traveled with also fixed windows, filled in playground sand, and played with the children. They also hosted an after-school Bible program.
“I just generally appreciated the ability to lift someone else up by sharing the simple ability of being able to paint,” Trista said.
Thanks to Trista and her team of volunteers, what once used to look like a shabby, run down building, stands a colorful, lively preschool filled with the laughter of children.
After graduating from HU in 2008 with a Bachelor of Art degree in art education with minors in graphic design and fine art, Trista secured a teaching job in Plymouth, Ind., and taught art to seventh and eighth graders for a year. After a few years at Plymouth, she found her dream job as a sculpture and ceramics teacher. Trista moved to Russiaville, Ind., to teach 3D art at Western High School.
“My job is probably the best job at the school,” Trista said. “I like to create an inviting atmosphere in my classroom that is conducive to creativity in a relaxed space.”
Trista’s time with her professors and the time she spent at her practica and teaching observation visits helped to prepare her to make her mark on the world.
“I am confident in my discipline,” Trista said. “I don’t ever question my ability to make great art and to pass that on to my students. The art professors I studied under are absolutely amazing artists and teachers themselves and truly invested in me and worked with me to help me achieve a level of competency that I am very proud of.”
When she wasn’t in the Art Annex working on the potter’s wheel, Trista spent time with her friends on her dorm building floor and built relationships with those women.
“Living in a dorm surrounded by women that came together to grow as Christians, learning and developing into mature, educated, job-ready adults; studying for demanding classes together; and worshiping and serving together all made a great environment to become intimate with Christ,” Trista said. “These friends I made helped me through the stress of school, helped me discover who I would later marry and supported me during my art shows and through family changes. HU is a church — a body of Christians.”
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