Imagine a handful of at risk teenage students traveling in a van, on dirt roads, during a school day and miles from any town. Imagine these same students, who typically do not receive much, or any, positive reinforcement in life, about to embark on something that will be forever life changing. Imagine, too, these students as they arrive at a tiny, rural school, met with hugs by the 3-10 students in the school. Imagine that, for the first time in their lives, they are given the responsibility of teaching art and, maybe, becoming heroes to somebody because they brought the gift of art to a place that rarely, if ever, has visitors from the outside. This is the heart ‘Van Go’: students teaching students art in a profound and memorable way, by taking art to disenfranchised schools, mostly, that have no organized art lessons, art teachers, or art budgets.
BOOKS BY JENNIFER WILLIAMS
The Williams Family Adopts Tiki Turtle
The Williams Family and Andy Cat
The Williams Family Shares a Rat 'Tail'
The Williams Family and a Very Beloved Dolly
The Williams Family and Stinky Minky
The Williams Family Bids Aloha to Shell and Lily
The Williams Family Rescue a Piggy Named Otis
Tails, Scales, Fur, Purr, Oink
ABOUT PROJECT VAN GO
Jennifer was born and raised in Oakland, California, but came to Idaho in 1972 as the wife of an Air Force pilot. She began her teaching career at Mountain Home High School where she taught art for 25 years before teaching art at Skyview High School in Nampa. She earned her BFA in Art Education from Mississippi State University and her Master’s degree in Art from Boise State University.
Jennifer lives in Idaho with her husband, Kirk (who still shoots his age in golf), where she has been an art educator for 44 years. Jennifer has been an adjunct professor at Boise State University, George Fox University and the College of Idaho. Jennifer has received numerous state and national awards in her teaching career, including the Governor’s Award in Art Education, US West Teacher of the Year, Boise State’s Distinguished Alumni Award and Women Making History Award, ING’s 1st Place National Unsung Heroes Award, the National Education Association’s Teaching Excellence Award, Idaho’s Art Teacher of the Year and was the 2002 Idaho Teacher of the Year. In 2016, Jennifer was one of only five teachers, nationwide, inducted into the NATIONAL TEACHERS HALL OF FAME in Emporia, Kansas, and is the first Idaho teacher to have ever been recognized by the President of the United States for this award. Jennifer is a published artist, having written 2 art textbooks and many articles. This is the seventh in a series of children’s books she is writing, to share stories that are mostly factual, about the plethora of sentient beings that always seem to find their way into her life. Jennifer passionately advocates for all creatures.
Jennifer has taken art to tiny one room school houses for over 40 years with her ‘Project Van Go’. This year she celebrated this milestone at the little red school house on the prairie in Prairie, Idaho. Her greatest work, she says, is that of mother to four amazing children: Hillary an Advisor of Human Resources technology and living in the warmth of Arizona, Tyler a Doctor of Physical Therapy residing in the bay area and exploring all things that test any limit, Jessica (Kyle) a high school Science teacher in Idaho and amazing mother to our precious ‘cheeky monkey’ Norah, Harper ‘peanut’, and Emily (Jason) who is a School Counselor and mother to darling Sonja Hope. In her free time, Jennifer rehabilitates wild and domesticated animals. At every opportunity she volunteers at the Makauwahi Cave Reserve on Kaua’i where her two giant sulcata tortoises, Shelly and Lily, are part of a project that promotes the propagation of native Hawaiian plants. Jennifer donates profits from her books to many organizations. Her greatest inspiration was her Mother who passed away 5 years ago. Jennifer smiles at the journey that is her life since she was Miss San Francisco Cable Car 1968.