Veteran teacher retires

7:13 AM, Jul 1, 2011   |    comments
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WISCASSET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Its opening night at the River Arts gallery. A special exhibit, created by Tom Block.

Every piece in the exhibit is by an artist who grew up in Maine. And every one of them was taught by Tom Block.

"This is work these guys are doing now, not in high school. The idea behind the show here is to show that art continues on in somebody's life and continues to work in somebody's life forever," says Block.

If Tom looks familiar, that's because you may have seen on the air before. He created the illustrations for the Togus the Cat book.

But thousands of Maine high school students have known him as Mr. Block, the art teacher.

Tom Block taught art for the past 19 years at Wiscasset High School. Before that he taught at Georges Valley High in Thomaston. A few years ago he was named Maine's art teacher of the year.

His former students say they always knew that.

"Tom came along and kind of got me directed in a direction that basically kept me from possibly leaving school."

Wilder Oakes says he was a rebellious kid who liked to draw and didn't like school. A brand new teacher named Tom Block helped harness the boy's creative energy. And 37 Years later, Oates is a full time, successful artist.

"And the art is what saved him really it was what helped him to stay in school."

"If I'd dropped out of school I would have missed a whole lot of stuff, really exciting things. He has my gratitude forever for that."

Jenny Tescher learned photography in Block's class. Years later, Tescher works a day job, but is still creating art with her camera.

"He spent 38 years raising us all. He guided us to our own flair our own medium whatever that is...and I think everybody carried that through our lives. And based on all the amazing artists and people that create, he touched a lot of lives."

Block is passionate about teaching art, passionate about what it does for kids.

"And enthusiasm begins to build and all of a sudden they've found a vocation or avocation either one. And that's the really beautiful thing about art education. It should be in schools, It should be supported and continued."

And after all those years, all those students, he wanted one last show. Not his work, but theirs.

"So for me this is kind of an exclamation point, Boom, this is what happened. Look world see what they did, see where they went? See what they're doing now? It must feel good. It feels awesome, really awesome."

Block is an artist himself. But these students and their lives of creating, these are his masterpieces.


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