WEST POINT -- Bruce Hassard's love for music and art greatly enhances the learning experience for his young students.
On Friday afternoon, Hassard's second-grade students performed several guitar numbers for their parents at Lakeside Elementary.
Many of his students also received a one-of-a-kind animal drawing as a reward for their good behavior during the school year.
Hassard uses chalk pastels to create artwork for each student, spending at least 30 minutes on each poster-sized drawing.
"I wish my son, when he was young, had had someone like this," said Lisa Dennis, Hassard's co-worker.
Dennis is an instructional coach at Lakeside Elementary, working with teachers to improve their teaching techniques.
"He really takes an interest in every student. His kids show remarkable growth. Some of his kids were at risk at the beginning of the school year and they have made significant progress. He is just an outstanding teacher," Hassard said.
Hassard said he has always had a love for the arts. He took several art classes in college, with hopes of becoming an illustrator.
He volunteered one year in a first-grade classroom and soon "fell in love with the work."
He now uses his love of the arts to benefit his students.
"I've found I need to work with kids in a positive way rather than always being on their case," he said.
Hassard said he took advantage of a guitars in the classroom program four years ago at Northridge High School, where he was taught how to play the guitar.
"I enjoyed it so much that I began teaching my kids how to play," he said.
He has obtained many classroom guitars through grants and donations. Several of his students receive guitars from family as Christmas or birthday gifts. By the end of the school year, he has a guitar for every student.
Aly Borell, 8, was excited to perform the song "There's a Hole in the Bucket" on her guitar. She said that she received her own guitar as a birthday gift.
Tyson Page, 8, said he enjoyed learning the different chords on the guitar. He explained how his fingers had to move around the frets and strings to create the different tones.
Both Aly and Tyson were also looking forward to receiving their drawings from Hassard.
Aly had requested a drawing of a Chihuahua, while Tyson requested a rattlesnake.
Aly said she had to work really hard to earn one of Hassard's drawings. She had to change some of her habits to align her behavior with his requirements.
"He draws pictures for us if we are good," Aly said.
Hassard said that he estimates that he has created more than 700 drawings for students in his 18 years of teaching.
The students can request any drawing they want.
Hassard joked that some requests get pretty specific, as he showed off a picture of a black unicorn with a rainbow mane standing in front of a sunset.
Hassard's artwork also included drawings of cougars, unicorns, penguins, snakes, monkeys and toucans.