Students at Summit Academy Community School – Cincinnati are learning to embrace the will-do spirit of the late Alma Woodsey Thomas in a Black History Month lesson teacher Patricia Schimweg hopes will last their lifetimes.

Using Trix cereal and paint, third- and fourth-grade students at Summit Academy Community School – Cincinnati are creating mosaics in the spirit of celebrated artist Alma Woodsey Thomas, for Black History Month.

Known for her colorful, vibrant paintings which are held in public collections such as those of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and White House Historical Association, Thomas (1891-1978) was a significant role model for African Americans and women.

Third- and fourth-grade students at Summit Academy Community School – Cincinnati learn about renowned artist Alma Woodsey Thomas for Black History Month

“What she cared about was being an artist, not about what other people were thinking, not about oppression, but her strengths,” says elementary teacher Patricia Schimweg whose students are learning about Thomas as they practice her art form.

Adamant about rejecting any threats to her art, Thomas refused labels. Schimweg says Thomas’s family inspired her to achieve her dreams and goals despite roadblocks she could face. It’s a lesson Schimweg is teaching her students.

“We want to give students opportunities so they move forward, keep growing and keep their vision on what they can achieve, even though it may be difficult,” Schimweg says.

Thomas achieved her fame as an artist late in life, after her long teaching career. Schimweg, who at age 76 returned to teaching in her post-retirement, says she, too, draws inspiration from Thomas.

“Look at what she developed. You never stop growing,” Schimweg says.