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This watercolor was created with coffee grounds and chili powder. Painting: Sofia Rodriguez, 16, courtesy of Cristina Correa

Students on both sides of the border that attend the IDEA San Juan College Prep school in Texas are completing art assignments remotely using materials found at home.

Why it matters: Teachers around the country are struggling to provide their students with continuity — not just in academics, but also in designating time and resources for self-expression — and art teacher Cristina Correa found resourceful solutions.

What's happening: When the school dismissed students for extended leave due to the coronavirus, many weren't able to come by the art department for supplies, even students working on AP portfolio submissions.

  • Correa designed a series of prompts that encouraged students to improvise art supplies from common materials and objects they could find at home.
  • "The idea for using Hot Cheetos was based off of a running joke. The kids would sneak in Hot Cheetos and get fingerprints on their work," Correa says.

Context: Correa, who has taught art at IDEA San Juan for more than ten years, tells Axios some students commute from Mexico, and that as a student body, "we are 96% economically disadvantaged. Some of our students come from far below the poverty line."

The bottom line: "Having a creative outlet, having that kind of escape is important for kids," says Correa, who noted that many of her students work to help support their families, and may be facing additional financial pressure during the pandemic.

  • "This gives students a different way to problem solve, to share themselves, and to find something they’re really good at."

All images courtesy of Cristina Correa:

Left: Anette Rodriguez, 17. Right: Vanessa Cardenas, 17
Left: Ihtziri Salas, 17. Right: Andrea Arroyo, 17
Left: Anette Rodriguez, 17. Right: Samira Marquez, 16.

Go deeper

America's education workforce needs students at school

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An entire sector of America's education workforce faces paycheck jeopardy in the coming weeks that moving to remote teaching can't easily fix.

Why it matters: Half of America’s education workforce isn't teachers, and they support students and school districts in many ways educators cannot — like counseling, feeding students, transportation and mental health.

2 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.