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Stuart 'bag ladies' helping teachers, students and more get creative

Posted at 5:45 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 07:48:05-04

STUART, Fla. — They taught teachers to teach creatively. Now they’re teaching you.

They’re called the “Bag Ladies,” and if you’ve worked as a teacher, you may have heard of them. Teachers Karen Simmons and Cindy Guinn have written several books on creative teaching projects and traveled the country with their ideas. Now, they’re taking their knowledge to the general public.

Like a ping-pong conversation of dreaming up new uses for objects and applying them to projects, Simmons and Guinn can finish each others’ sentences. They’ve spent decades developing their style and their skills.

“Oh, we really know each other,” Simmons laughed.

The two met 35 years ago teaching different subjects and different grade levels at the same school. They each found a kindred spirit: one who would play off her idea and make it bigger and bolder.

“Once she would give me an idea, I’d run home and go for it,” Guinn said.

Picking up from there, Simmons added, “And we’ve always been thematic anyway, everything we do is thematic.”

The two were hired to write multiple books to help teachers with creative hands-on projects. They traveled the country sharing their knowledge. During the pandemic, they grew their vision another step. They started creating bundles and backpacks of supplies that could be sent home with students. It was a success with the children and then, the students’ parents.

“Their parents were telling us, I made one for myself too,” Simmons said.

They started teaching socially-distanced art classes to the general public. Their classes are on Thursdays next to Stuart Art Supply in the Artists' Nook Studio.

Next, they started selling their bundled works in an Etsy store.

They’ve transformed Golden Books, magazines and found materials into art journals, helping budding artists explore the possibilities.

“They always say, it’s cheaper than therapy,” laughed Guinn.

The next step is sure to be something creative.

“It’s been a fun ride, yeah, it’s been a great ride, but we’re still riding,” Simmons laughed.