Teacher's uplifting art project reminds students of their uniqueness

PHOTO: Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.Jessica Moyes/Sharon Elementary School
Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.

One art teacher has inspired her entire school to embrace their unique gifts and talents.

Jessica Moyes, who's worked six years at Sharon Elementary School in Newburgh, Indiana, wanted each student leave their mark on the school by painting a rock any way they wanted to. She said she was inspired after seeing a similar project online.

After applying for an approximately $500 grant from a local foundation, Moyes put her plan into action.

PHOTO: Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.Jessica Moyes/Sharon Elementary School
Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.

She first inspired the students by reading Linda Kranz's 2006 children's book, "Only One You."

"The story is basically about a little fish, who is getting ready to venture out on his own and he gets some words of wisdom from his parents," Moyes told ABC News. "The most important thing that the book talks about is being unique and not always following the crowd."

The teacher then had each student -- a total of 740 children -- paint a rock in their own unique way during a class period.

PHOTO: Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.Jessica Moyes/Sharon Elementary School
Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.

Moyes, who later laid the rocks around the school, completed the beautification project by creating a sign, featuring a quote from "Only One You."

The sign read: "There is only one you in this great big world ... Make it a better place."

After posting photos of the project on Facebook, they quickly went viral.

Still, Moyes hopes the project reminded her students "how unique and special each of them are," she said. "By themselves, they can do big things, but when they work together ... it can have an even bigger impact."

PHOTO: Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.Jessica Moyes/Sharon Elementary School
Art teacher Jessica Moyes tasked 740 students to paint a rock any way they wanted. What resulted was a project going viral online.

Principal Ashlee Bruggenschmidt told ABC News the art project has had a tremendous effect on her students, who often experience "anxiety."

"Today there is so much focus on high-stakes testing," she explained. "The arts are a great way for our kids to express themselves and not have that stress of standardized testing."

Bruggenschmidt commended Moyes for "putting the kids first ... and being so positive with them. We're just very blessed to have her here."

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