Rebecca Bonner is an art teacher who loves to showcase her students’ creativity and work. With an art show scheduled at McAullife Elementary School, the Texas teacher devised the perfect way to display their work. Forget about the traditional paper or canvas, though. Bonner had something a little more fashionable in mind — having her 580 students design a dress for the special event.
She laid out Sharpie and colored fabric markers next to a plain white dress. For two weeks, she simply let the kids express themselves artistically. This may sound crazy to most adults, who would likely discourage children from coloring on clothing. But Bonner had a feeling this would inspire her students.
And she was right! The idea was a hit with the students in her class. With Bonner’s encouragement, they used their creativity to decorate the skirt portion of the dress. Their designs make the bottom half of the ensemble bright and full of color.
“My kids loved taking part in designing my dress,” she told CNN. “We talked about how we had to be respectful of each other’s artwork and chose images that I would like on my dress. I loved watching my kids design it.”
The students in her classroom were not the only ones thrilled by the idea. Bonner’s 20-year-old daughter, Charlece Lake, felt moved by her mom’s passion for her work and decided to share it with the world. She snapped a photo of her and posted it to Twtter where the image quickly went viral.
The image shows Bonner wearing the brightly colored dress to the school district’s art show in Highland Village, a suburb of Dallas. You can see it for yourself in Lake’s tweet below:
my mom is the cutest art teacher ever!! She made a dress and had every one of her students draw one thing on the dress for her to wear. This was her at her student’s art show tonight. IM SOBBING pic.twitter.com/6Q7L2mq5jQ
— Charlece Lake (@charlece_lake) March 23, 2019
“My daughter asked to take a picture of me as I was walking to get in the car, so I turned around and pulled up the edge of the dress so she could get all the doodles in the photo,” Bonner said, per “Today.” “I didn’t even know she posted it to her Twitter!”
Although the photo just went viral, it turns out the dress has made a fashion statement before. This is the second year in a row that Bonner wore the dress to a student art show. The “doodle dress” made such a splash at last year’s event, the veteran teacher knew it had to make another appearance.
“This year as the District Art Show approached, I decided I would wear it again,” she said. “My kids loved that I wore it again. A lot of the new students and my kindergartners want me to make a new one for our end of the year school art show!”
Bonner also told “Today” that she plans to repeat this experiment with her new class. “My new students and my kindergartners need the opportunity to be a part of a doodle dress,” she said. “I just need to order a new, plain white dress off Amazon!”
Until a new dress is designed, Bonner said she’s thrilled to keep wearing her wardrobe masterpiece. She hopes it will inspire others to think of educating children in new and inspiring ways.
“Being their teacher dressed up in their doodles is always fun,” she told “Good Morning America.”
Lake says she never expected her photo to get so much attention, but has always admired her mom’s passion for teaching. She is now pursuing her own teaching degree in college.
Bonner was also surprised to learn that the picture her daughter had shared had garnered so much attention online. However, she says she hopes it will help reinforce the message of the importance of maintaining arts in schools.
“I’m not worried about being famous or anything like that but I do think it’s great to promote the arts, because elementary art is not everywhere,” she said. “I think it’s really important for kids to have that outlet, to have that place to create, and that freedom to create.”
Bonner says she’s gratified to see that so many of the comments that the post garnered are from aspiring art teachers.
“I have loved art since I could hold a paintbrush!” she said. “Art has always been my passion and I am so glad I get to share that with my students every day.”
What do you think of this art teacher’s unique method of inspiring creativity among her students?