Regular readers of the blog know that I believe the arts are an essential part of successful learning environments. As soon as my first son went to school, I started volunteering to help with arts projects, reading, and bringing artists into his school. As the other two followed, I became even more involved, eventually directing an annual grants budget of $20,000 to bring authors, illustrators, quilters, a paper maker, a mosaic artist, a storyteller, and a mixed media artist into the classrooms. Now that my sons are older, I am doing more of my own creative work as an author and photographer.
I remain committed to the arts in classrooms. I recently visited St. Richard’s Catholic School to conduct professional development in arts integration. I am also nearly finished with a mini-residency at Davis Magnet IB World School, where I have been helping second graders learn about their neighborhood through photography. This blog is being featured right now on the Resources page of Keeping Arts in Schools, an advocacy group. Another local mother who shares my interest in arts integration also blogs about it. Visit her Art Smart Parents blog.
During today’s visit, three fourth grade classes embellished quilt blocks they had made in art class prior to my visit. Each student made choices about whether to add fabric or whether to use embroidery thread alone to accent their pictures. They had drawn pictures on muslin squares and colored them using fabric markers. In each session, we had extra teachers helping to keep needles threaded and to help in other ways.
I spent the day at St. Richard’s Catholic School — with two distinct assignments. First, I conducted three teacher workshops on integrating quilting into the curriculum and, second, I did two Wolfsnail presentations. St. Richard’s is a Whole School as designated by the Mississippi Arts Commission, which means that arts is integrated into teaching across the curriculum. Art Teacher Gene Everitt took this photograph of me during the teacher workshop.
The two Wolfsnail presentations were for first graders and second graders. My mother came in for the first Wolfsnail presentation because I asked her to videotape one of my readings. I am considering applying to join the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Teaching Artist Roster and the application requires recordings of presentations with students and with teachers. I am already a member of the MAC’s Artist Roster. The difference between the two is that in addition to maintaining artistic excellence and being able to share the arts practice and technique with students, teaching Artists are expected to have some expertise in developing lesson plans and in guiding teachers as they develop lesson plans.