As the lunch bell rings at Rowan County High School, students file out of their classrooms and head toward the cafeteria. Some students, however, swim against the current in the hallways – they’re headed to Jason Ratcliff’s art classroom.
Students sit at tables working on their pieces; they’d rather be there than in the cafeteria. They enjoy conversation with their teacher. Georgia Means is one of them.
"We can sit here and talk all day," Georgia says while working on a clay mug. "It's a good break during the day."
Jason has been teaching art at Rowan County since 2010, after working as an independent artist and in HVAC. He is a staple in the arts community in Morehead, with murals and commissioned pieces scattered around town.
Raised by an artist father, Jason has been surrounded by art since birth, and he has explored many mediums.
“My dad told me not to bother with a teaching certificate,” Jason says. But he developed a love for teaching that helps to feed his own creative energy.
Many of Jason's students enjoy learning from his wealth of knowledge and expertise.
"You'll be trying to do something for like 10 minutes, and when you ask for help," Charlie Whelan says, "Mr. Ratcliff can come over and show you in 10 seconds."
Jamie Knight is another student who can often be found in Jason's classroom.
"He's just a good person," Jamie says. "He don't ever have anything bad to say."
As the bell rings, signaling the end of lunch, students plead to stay for a few more minutes, but eventually file out of Mr. Ratcliff's classroom and back into the hallways, headed to their next class.