New RHS art teacher carrying on tradition

By Bruce Sims
Contributing Writer
Posted 6/12/07

Bryant Baggett remembers how Fred Lawyer, Robertsdale High’s recently retired art teacher, used to encourage him when he was a student at RHS. Now that he’s been hired to replace the man who started the school’s award winning art program …

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New RHS art teacher carrying on tradition


Bryant Baggett remembers how Fred Lawyer, Robertsdale High’s recently retired art teacher, used to encourage him when he was a student at RHS. Now that he’s been hired to replace the man who started the school’s award winning art program Baggett said he intended to use the same teaching philosophy.

“Mr. Lawyer always found something positive in his students’ artwork,” Baggett said. “He encouraged thousands of students during his tenure at Robertsdale. I know I’m following a legend, but I hope to use what he taught me, as well as incorporate a number of other things I’ve learned along the way into the way I teach art.”

A 2004 graduate of the University of Alabama with a BS in Advertising and a BA in Graphic Design, Baggett is a 2000 graduate of Robertsdale High.

“Mr. Lawyer was instrumental in getting me an art scholarship to Shelton State Community College, which is located near the UA campus,” he said. “During my two years at Shelton I had the opportunity to study under Krist Lien, who is now an instructor at the Pensacola Junior College.”

A Dean’s List student at SSCC, Baggett was inducted into the Society of the Golden Key, a national honors society, while he was a student there.

“At Robertsdale I was a member of the golf team for four years, and a Boys State participant,” he said.

Because of Lawyer’s interest in his art career, and help in attaining a scholarship, Baggett said he wished to do the same for his students.

“Just as he opened doors for me,” Baggett said, “I want to do the same for other students who wish to pursue a career in this field.”

Baggett is no stranger to the field of education as his mother, Joy Baggett, is a retired math teacher who taught at Central Baldwin Middle School.

“My sister, Melissa, teaches first grade at Orange Beach Elementary,” he added. “My other sister, Jessica, recently graduated from Auburn with her doctorate in pharmacy. She will be returning to Baldwin County to work.”

Baggett’s dad, Lowell, recently retired from United Parcel Service.

As an artist Baggett has taken Best of Show honors at the National Shrimp Festival, and received an honorable mention for his work in the Birmingham Southern Art Competition.

“Not only do I want my students to submit entries to various competitions, but I can’t wait for our own juried art show at RHS this year,” Baggett said. “The Best of Show Award for our in-house competition will be named for Mr. Lawyer, and it is our hope that he will be here to present it to the winning student.”

Baggett said that while Lawyer was a major influence on his career during high school Sheila Mitchell, who was his art teacher at CBMS, helped prepare him for the high school program.

“Mrs. Mitchell introduced us to a number of art forms,” he said, “and she made each one so interesting.”

Following his graduation from Bama Baggett tried to get a job in South Alabama, but to no avail.

“While at the University I was part of a five-person team that put together an advertising campaign for Woods & Water, a store that specializes in outdoor interests in Tuscaloosa,” he said. “I called the owner, told him who I was, and how I had been part of the team, and the next thing I knew I was hired as the advertising manager.”

In addition to designing print media Baggett maintained the company’s website, advised the owner, Tony Laws, about which media outlets to use, and then produced ad copy for the catalog.

“I spent two years with Woods & Water before coming back to Baldwin County where I got a job with Covey Communications in Gulf Shores,” he said. “While working at Woods & Water one of the graphic artists and I got to talking about teaching art. Back then it was just an idea, but it was one that stuck with me.”

Lawyer mentioned to a family member that he would like to see Bryant once again.

One thing led to another, as the saying goes, and the next thing I knew I was interviewing with Ms. Theresa Bryant,” he said. “Mr. Lawyer told me that if I got the job it was `all or nothing,’ as teaching required a total commitment to the school and to the students.”

Lawyer was known around RHS for his ponytail and laidback classroom demeanor.

I can be pretty laidback as well,” Baggett said, “but I’m afraid I draw the line in regards to the ponytail.”

Teaching as he was taught, but with his own unique style, is his goal for the coming school year.

“The kids may not be looking forward to August, but I can assure you I am,” he said.