Williamsville teacher, who started art gallery at school, is finalist for Teacher Hall of Fame

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WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — An art gallery isn’t exactly a normal sight inside an elementary school, but at Dodge Elementary in the Williamsville Central School District, the ‘Brick Room Art Gallery’ (BRAG), is a focal point. Thom Knab, the art teacher at Dodge, created the gallery.

Knab goes above and beyond for his students, and it’s getting noticed. He’s one of just 24 finalists across the country to enter the Teacher Hall of Fame, which is in Emporia, Kansas.

“To be a finalist in 2020 is a pretty cool feeling,” he said. “I’m very honored. It’s been a nice chance to do some advocacy for art and get it out there how important it is for the students.”

Knab has been at Dodge for 30 years, and is extremely passionate about the importance of art in schools.

“I notice a lot of times if the kids aren’t really strong at maybe writing or reading, this is a way the kids can excel because you have an answer, but there (are) multiple answers to that art problem,” Knab said. “It’s another way also for them to express themselves, which a lot of kids need in this world. There are lot of stresses unfortunately in the world today for kids.”

Knab said if he gets into the Teacher Hall of Fame, he hopes his legacy at the school will be more than that. He wants the Dodge Elementary School building to be transformed before he leaves one day. He’s now in the process of hanging artwork around the school, and leads the charge in student-made murals.

He also hopes his passion inspires the young people he teaches every day. And when you talk to them, it’s clear he’s making a huge difference in their lives.

“It’s just like a good art class,” Colton Ziewicki said, a first grader.

“He’s a really good artist,” Jacob Lewandowski said, another first grader. “On my first day here, when I first met him, I was like, ‘he can draw really good stuff.’ He inspires us to make our own drawings.”

Knab is also the boys varsity volleyball coach for Williamsville South High School. He said the gym is another classroom for him to inspire young people.

Five teachers get chosen to be inducted into the Teacher Hall of Fame in 2020. Knab will find out if he’s chosen in March.

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