County Road 11: Secret Garden Art Studio

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NEWTON, Miss. (WTOK) -- Unless you're from Newton, you may not have heard of the Secret Garden Art Studio.

Photo Source: WTOK-TV

A pair of long-time educators at Newton High School turned their love of teaching and art into one of the more unique places in our area.

A unique place, Andy and Dottie Armstrong both retired from teaching at Newton High School back in 1999. Andy taught history for 30 years and Dottie taught art for 27 years.

"We knew we wanted to retire but we knew we didn't want to quit teaching. Andy started teaching at the State branch and I wanted to keep teaching art but I didn't have a place to do it," said Dottie Armstrong, a retired art teacher.

So in the summer of 2000, Andy, a self-described non handy-man, built Dottie an art studio from scratch so she could continue to teach art lovers in Newton County

"I did not have a workshop and had very few tools. I had a strong back and a weak mind I guess and I went to the library and read about how to do things and came home and went down to Haley's Hardware," said Andy Armstrong, a retired history eacher.

From there, the Armstrongs added a lot to the outside, including a playground for kids--thus creating their secret garden

"What Dottie had me do was go up to her classroom at Newton High School and measure it exactly and that was going to be the footage she had in here," said Andy.

The Armstrongs have been married for 53 years and have spent much of their free time traveling the world. But their love is teaching, and that has continued well after their retirement.

"A lot of people want to learn how to draw and paint. For adults especially, many of them have waited many years until they retired and finished their work and now they're getting to do what they wanted to do for so long," said Dottie. "For children, they're all excited about taking art."

"We've got a family motto that happiness is a journey, not the destination. That's pretty much the way we've lived our life," said Andy.

The Armstrongs don't charge for group functions or meetings at the Secret Garden. For more information, you can visit the website at

You can also call (601) 683-6420.