Charlie H, art student, standing in hallway at Tampa Prep

Meet Charlie

When I was younger, like five years old, and we lived in San Francisco, it was my morning routine to walk to this coffee shop with my mom. I would always do these drawings there and make a story to go with them. My mom was so supportive and always a big motivation. Both my parents have helped me become confident in myself. They’ve always been there for me whenever I need someone to talk to, a hand to hold. My dad also used to stay up with me for hours when I was younger and we’d make up stories together. 

I still love doing things like that, which is why I love [Tampa Prep’s] art program so much. We do all these creative, out-of-the-box projects. Right now we’re using chalk to draw bananas and, you know, just push ourselves to see how far we can take that. I’m also trying to get into some watercolor right now, but I do worry about pacing myself and getting ahead of myself. Time is flying really fast right now.

Art, to me, means having a goal in mind and seeing how you can put that on paper. That’s what I did for the self portrait that is in the glass display case in the lobby here at school. I really wanted to see how I could use paper in a different way. I had the idea of just cutting out pieces of paper like a mosaic and seeing how that would work. I’m really proud of that. It reminds me of a time at a summer camp when I was working on a woodworking project and it kept breaking. It broke so many times, but I just kept fixing it in new ways. Art really gives you a creative way to problem solve.

I started Tampa Prep in Middle School–seventh grade–and I immediately loved the people. Everyone is really nice and fun to be around. The teachers also helped me feel more comfortable. It’s very much a community. We’re all connected by the same hub, literally.

Being at a new school–the whole thing is kind of a process. It’s important to be around people who can help you learn things about yourself. It’s important to find people you can express yourself around. Tampa Prep is a community where you learn from each other, with each other.

My only goal right now is to further explore and understand what I really enjoy doing.

Charlie is also interested in

Cross Country
Wood Working
Tampa Prep middle school art teacher Martha DeAmbrose

Ms. Martha DeAmbrose on Charlie

We all knew right away how caring and intuitive Charlie was, even during First Week (our orientation for new students). He definitely thinks of others and puts them first. He’ll console someone at his table, normalize their feelings by providing his own example of a time he struggled in a similar way and then suggest other techniques that the person hasn’t tried yet. 

He’s also open to experimenting with new techniques, and wants to build on his artistic skills. This past summer during COVID quarantining, he was looking for different outlets and workshops to do virtually. His mom and I communicated about some good ones I discovered and he did some self study.

In the classroom, he’s one of those guys who is focused. He isn’t afraid to go through his process, trying things but knowing that it’s not always going to come out as expected. Often, young artists think they can make things in one try. But it’s really the second or third tries that reveal what’s going on behind the scenes of their painting or drawing. Charlie is developing that patience that comes with being a great artist. He slows down and takes his time with things.

His “Rochambeau” drawing blew my mind for several reasons. First, it was so clever. We were drawing hands, working on contour lines, and he came up with the idea of the rock, paper, scissors hand game, of course. How did he think of that? Second, he worked on it tirelessly, even brought it home and worked on it over Thanksgiving break. He’s driven.

Charlie will be a great candidate for the Arts Concentration if that’s something he’s interested in. There’s something mathematical about his drawings, how he can let his brain, eye and hands help each other measure. There’s something very cool going on “upstairs” with him.