LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — To kick off National Teacher Appreciation Week, 8 News Now starts by highlighing a local teacher’s innovation that’s taking art to the next level.

For Tyrone Thompson Elementary art specialist Laura Malecki, art is her perfect craft.

“Having a passion for what you do and spreading the word for teaching in a positive light, it feels really impactful,” she said. “I’ve always been a lifelong learner, every year I’m doing something new, either with the state or with the district or with my school to try new things.”

Malecki enjoys coming up with new ways to be creative in her field and using art to tap into social and emotional development.

“Right now I’m close to being certified through a program called Breathe for Change, which does yoga and social emotional learning, which is a huge buzzword in education right now,” she said. “The goal is to, after school, do a class here at Tyrone Thompson for yoga and mindfulness with that certificate. Also, I’m working with the state to create for the very first time an art curriculum at the state level for elementary school.”

Principal Robert Hincliffe said Malecki’s love for her students and their growth is inspiring to see.

“I think that’s really where teachers who struggle, they struggle because they haven’t been able to know students on a personal level, but Miss Malecki is fantastic with that. She knows every student by their first name. She knows something about them and I think that’s key,” he said.

“In my ceramics class, my art teacher was an inspiration for me and I was very excited to go into art, and I’ve been doing art for over 18 years here at CCSD,” Malecki continued.