By ESTEVAN MEDRANO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Joanna Wolfe is an 8th grade science teacher at Port Isabel Junior High School with an impressive talent for crafting. When she was living in Arizona, she owned a decorative painting business, often creating life-sized creatures and props for her church. She continued that creative practice when she moved to the Rio Grande Valley. Wanting to give her students “an experience like they’ve never had before” prior to their leaving middle school, she crafted and decorated several new creations to accompany an underwater-themed school dance. The countless hours of effort led to as unforgettable an affair as she had hoped for when she saw her students dancing among sea horses, exotic fish, a sunken ship and mermaids.
With the assistance of other teachers and students, the nautical themed sculptures were crafted with a blend of papier mâché, chicken wire, cardboard, pool noodles, recycled materials, paint, wood and cardboard. When asked what motivates her to spend so many months meticulously crafting a shark’s mouth large enough to put a person’s head into or a gold throne from Atlantis, she said this:
“A lot of people don’t understand why you would go home and put hours into this. But when you see those kids and they realize this was for them just because of who they were — they were my 8th grade kids… When you see those kids walk in and their eyes light up, it’s worth it.”
Next year’s school dance theme has already been selected to be based off the timeless story of The Wizard of Oz.
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