Tyler Watts, a teacher at Letcher Elementary School, asked his math students a question recently.
How many Post-It notes would it take him to finish his latest and biggest ever art project for a widow display at the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library in downtown Whitesburg?
5,982 notes, the children answered
By Saturday, Watts had created Halloween Post-It note portraits of Pennywise from the movie ‘It’, of Jack and Sally from the movie ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ and Jason from the ‘Friday the 13th’ movie in the library windows.
“They could figure out how many Post-It Notes I needed by using multiplication and division,” said Watts, who has created such art projects across Kentucky.
“This was a real way for me to tie.... in to area and perimeter. This was the best real world connection that I could show them because first we had to find the dimensions of the window. I tried to give them just a little bit of ownership in it,” said Watts. “I want them to know me outside school.”
“Our windows are his favorite canvas,” said librarian Broy Dollarhyde. “It brings a lot of publicity to the library.”
Watts first used Post-It Notes to create a Statue of Liberty portrait at the library during Whitesburg’s Mountain Heritage festival in 2016. A’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ portrait that followed got the attention of ABC’s Good Morning America show and CBS This Morning, Watts said.
“You’ve got to be a teacher before school, during school and after school,” said Watts. “I don’t just want my kids to know me from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.”
Watts said he did a Post-It Note display that said “I love my public school” at the Kentucky Capitol for the Kentucky Education Association two years ago.
He said he had also produced 12 to 15 Post-It Note portraits at public schools across the state. Watts said he only uses the 3M Post-It Notes, which are manufactured in Cynthiana. One year 3M was nice enough to send him some free ones, he said.
“I want to inspire my students to always think outside the box ... to do their own thing and be their own person, “ said Watts. “Art work ... doesn’t have to be pencil and paper. Art work doesn’t always have to be on a canvas.”