A popular art teacher in Pugwash, N.S. is drawing near retirement, but before she takes her leave, she's helped students make their mark on the local high school.

Art teacher Louise Cloutier invited every student at both Pugwash schools to contribute to a special mural in the high school cafeteria.

The mural is three metres high and six metres long and, for Cloutier, it represents 24 years of teaching art.

“This is the year that I am retiring, and I wanted to do something spectacular,” says Cloutier. “Not just with the one class, as I've normally done with the art that you're going to see around the school, I decided to include all the students.”

Grade primary to six students made handprints and the older children were asked to create their own personal logo for the mural.

“An abstract representation of their feelings, their passions, their challenges, the things which they excel at,” says Cloutier.

The symbols are personal, without being identifiable to a particular student.

The students say creating the piece of art is almost like signing a retirement mural for one of their favorite teachers.

“Like if you're having a bad day, she made it 10 times better by just going into art class,” says student Jordan Boyd. “She made you like to do art work and she'd make you put your feelings into it and like, it would just, it made it a lot more special.”

“It's just amazing how one person can change a whole school, in less than twenty five years,” says student Christian Goldie.

Cloutier’s work has reached beyond the walls of the school. She helped students design four benches in Eaton Park, with various peace symbols.

“She's always going above and beyond for her students,” says Principal Shawn Brunt. “She just continuously helps them. She continuously improves on what they're doing. They also go to her for support in whatever they require.”

Cloutier says her time as an art teacher has been a rewarding experience.

“When I chose a career, it was to follow my dream, which has always been art. So it is, it is a passion,” says Cloutier.

After retirement, Cloutier plans to continue teaching art by giving private lessons. She says she's looking forward to no report cards and flying south for the winter.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh