Her immediate realm, though, is populated by the 300 young charges who enter the doors of her classroom at the Atlanta Speech School.
The art teacher is making waves there and beyond in her bid to change the dynamics of contemporary instruction/learning — namely through an infusion of compassion and community.
“I want to [foster] a community environment,” said Riddett-Moore. “So, the research I’ve done is about how do we develop caring in the classroom.”
Devising a curriculum based on big ideas, themes and art versus materials alone has been her calling card.
“Caring can’t be taught like a laundry list of things — ‘I do these things, therefore I care,’” she said. “It has to be experienced and felt, so I was writing curriculum that helped the students reflect on their own lives and how do they develop themselves as ethical people.”
Riddett-Moore’s innovative ideas have garnered national acclaim, notably through an award-winning dissertation.
“I was pushed by my mentor, who said, ‘Hey, what you’ve written here is different and unique in the field and you need to apply for these [honors],” she said. Riddett-Moore walked away with three of them — pulling off a rare “triple crown,” including being lauded by the Elliot Eisner Doctoral Research Award in Art Education and separate accolades from the Arts-Based Research Special Interest Group and Arts and Learning Special Interest Group.
“It was mostly because the work was about, still, this concept of what do we teach in the arts outside skill building,” said Riddett-Moore.
“We’re learning how to make things, but what are we learning? … What are we developing cognitively, socially, emotionally when we learn to make those things?”
The married mother of two has earned high praise from peers and supervisors at the school.
Billed as the nation’s most comprehensive center for language and literacy, it houses four schools — including those serving young children who are deaf or hard of hearing, have speech and/or language delays and have dyslexia and other language-based disabilities. “Often times, our children are struggling with language in the classroom. … Karinna has a real gift for accessing children’s strengths,” said Comer Yates, the school’s longtime executive director.
“She recognizes the gifts that they may not even see in themselves and helps them discover those gifts.”
Riddett-Moore penned an article that was printed in Visual Arts Research, a national publication. The work in question, “Developing an Arts of Living,” also probed the nature of caring in an arts classroom.
“A great, great ability around art and then matching commitment to the children — you just don’t find that,” Yates said. “That’s a rare thing to have.”