Lanigan Students Learn Perseverance Through Painting

A positive attitude will always outweigh a bad day.

That was the message and life experience that guest presenter Dennis Pullen offered to Lanigan Elementary students during a recent day-long visit to the school.

Michael Holmes attempts to paint with just his mouth, as partner Noah Mihalek assists during a recent exercise, following a presentation from guest speaker Dennis Pullen.
Michael Holmes attempts to paint with just his mouth, as partner Noah Mihalek assists during a recent exercise, following a presentation from guest speaker Dennis Pullen.

Pullen spent time with each grade level in Benjamin Jerred’s art room as he showed students just how a paralyzing accident was no match for his perseverance, strength and determination.

Surrounded by displays of his gifted paintings, Pullen shared his story of survival.

Hit by a car as a child, Pullen had to re-learn daily life tasks after the accident left him immobile.

At one point, while he attended G. Ray Bodley High School, he gave up and quit school, just to return two months later and graduate with his class.

After he had become more accustomed to life with his re-defined abilities, Pullen found a passion for painting.

Unable to use his hands, he utilized his mouth to hold a paint brush in place.

Time and patience allowed him to complete numerous, colorful paintings, several of which earned him accolades at various shows.

He said that while a nurse helps him daily, he has persevered through life’s struggles to succeed.

That is exactly what he encouraged each student to do while attending Lanigan and throughout their educational journey at other FCSD schools.

Each class had the opportunity to step into Pullen’s world and paint with their mouths.

The painters asked their partner to dip a Q-tip in paint and place the dry end into the painters’ mouths.

While some students in Aaron Koproski’s fifth grade class struggled through the task, others were able to paint objects or their names.

No matter the outcome, Pullen said, “There are no mistakes in art.”

Like Pullen, the students never gave up and had fun while painting.

The presentation was offered at Lanigan, thanks to the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation’s Arts-in-Education program.