National Geographic : 1996 Oct
Of course, accidents like this are bound to happen in Russell Hoffman's seventh grade art class where students actually become the artists they are studying. After choosing an artist's identity to assume, each student conducts in-depth research and writes an autobiography. To further identify with their artists, for the rest of the class students may only use their "artist" name. At the end of the course artists give oral reports and answer questions from the class about their life and work. In the eighth grade, Mr. Hoffman's students put their knowledge to work. Using enlargement techniques they learned the previous year, they paint beautiful outdoor murals of masterpieces they studied the year before. For his innovative method of combining art, history, writing and speech, State Farm is proud to present Russell Hoffman of the Blach Middle School with our Good Neighbor Award, and to donate a total of $5,000 to their Fine Arts Department and student galleries and to the Covington Musee in Los Altos, California. No one is more deserving. After all, he taught Van Gogh everything he knows.