ABC 36 Teacher of the Week, Tyler Watts

Tyler Watts has become known as the Post-it Picasso.

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WHITESBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) — It started out simply enough. And since then, it has grown.

“I would always teach on the floor. It’s the biggest canvas you can have in a classroom, said Letcher Elementary math teacher Tyler Watts.

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It started as a math lesson, a way to teach his first-grade students at Letcher Elementary School about line symmetric shapes.

“We would create bigger shapes and these crazy shapes, and next thing you know, the idea popped into my head,” recalled Watts.

Teaching his students about shapes is when Tyler Watts’ artistic talent began to take shape as well.

That was in 2016, and since then Watts’ large scale Post-It note creations have gone up around the state at businesses, schools, and even the state Capitol.

His talents have been on display at the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library in Whitesburg for the last few years, a partnership Watts says started when he was tutoring students at the library and mentioned an idea for a 4th of July display.

“We did the Statue of Liberty. It was very small part of what I’m doing now. And it was only about the size of one window, half of a window, maybe. But that’s where it started,” said Watts.

His displays take up more window space now, and have become something of a tradition in the town of Whitesburg. Watts’ latest project for the library, a Muppet Christmas display, took two weeks and 10,000 Post-It notes to complete.

And like many of the displays he’s done, Watts’ students were involved in creating this one.

“I let my students have a little bit of ownership in it, which has been cool during the pandemic, to give them ownership on a large-scale project,” Watts explained.

Watts, who now teaches fourth-grade math, says his students use their math skills to help calculate how many Post-It notes he’ll need to cover a display area.

“Math can be tied into so many different things, even art. And if they see it being tied into something as simple as art, then hopefully helps them make that connection that, hey, this is getting real,” Watts summed up.

It’s not just the math they help him with.

“They helped me roll things out on the design a whole lot. They don’t care one bit to do that. But I have the kindest students in the world. They’re sweethearts. They’re such good kids.”

The art is just one of the many ways Watts keeps his students engaged. He says he’s found humor goes a long way, as well.

“I love to make the kids laugh, and if I’m doing that, then the engagement’s already there. Then it’s time to throw in the curriculum,” said Watts.

If you know a teacher like Tyler Watts going above and beyond, nominate them to be our ABC 36, Parent-Teacher Store Teacher of the Week on our website.