Freeing the Inner Artist is the Goal in Lanetta Jernigan’s Classes

Direct Support Professional Lanetta Jernigan

Lanetta Jernigan, Monarch Direct Support Professional

When Direct Support Professional (DSP) Lanetta Jernigan looks at her students within her art class at New Horizons day program, she sees a room filled with aspiring artists.

“To me, we keep trying and never give up. Everyone is an artist. I tell my students that nobody has the same handwriting so everyone has their own way of creating art,” she says.

Jernigan has been a DSP with Monarch for over 10 years, assisting people supported who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) at the New Horizons day program located in Davie County.

Jernigan’s talented art skills and background as an elementary teacher with years of classroom experience are put to good use when she leads the Monday art sessions for New Horizons students who wish to participate. Their colorful, creative artwork adorns the classroom walls. Tables that line the classroom are filled with three-dimensional student artwork constructed from a variety of mediums.

Growing up, Jernigan was not your typical youngster. Instead of toys, she would ask her parents for pencils and paper so that she could draw. “I could draw before I could write my name,” she recalls with a smile.

Her DSP experience offers her the skills needed to reach and motivate people supported with I/DD. She shares that patience is key and the ability to bringing an excitement for creating art to the classroom. “If you try, you are a winner. You don’t have to get it exactly right,” Jernigan tells her students.

Each week she prepares a different art lesson pulling ideas together from boxes of donated mediums that include cardboard, ribbon, flowers and yarn. In true teacher fashion, Jernigan’s goal is not only to teach students how to create art but to teach a lesson. She spurs their imaginations with a variety of projects such as creating a three-dimensional community with buildings and streets.

Sometimes her students become frustrated when creating art thinking they are incapable of having an artist’s qualities. “There is no crying in art class or getting upset,” she warns. “When you are finished. You will end up with something beautiful.”

Student Brittany Green said she enjoys and looks forward to classes with Jernigan. “She is kind and nice. She gives good instruction,” Green says pointing out some of her own creations hanging on the wall.

Fellow student Jill St. Clair concurs: “It’s good. It’s fun. I like it.”

Jernigan is proud of her students and their accomplishments, pointing out many of the creations throughout her classroom that doubles as a meeting room: “It gives me so much pleasure to see them succeed. We draw one line at a time and go from there.”

At left, DSP Lanetta Jernigan explains the mediums used in a self portrait done by one of her students at New Horizons day program in Mocksville. At center, the New Horizons art room is filled and decorated with colorful student creations. At right, person supported Brittany Green poses near one of her pieces of artwork with Jernigan.


Posted on: Friday October 15, 2021