“Cedarhurst students love to be creative” wrote Debbie Thoma from Cedarhurst Elementary School in the Excel Grant application she submitted last Fall. “I see it all the time in the art they create that decorates our hallways and the entries they turn in for our PTA Reflections Arts Program. Research shows that students involved in the arts learn to think creatively, to communicate, to collaborate, to increase their cultural understanding and to increase their awareness of others perspectives. The arts allow students of all cultures and abilities to create and interact regardless of their languages or skills”. Debbie wanted to increase the art experiences of the 3rd grade students at Cedarhurst by bringing the Seattle Art Museum “Art Goes To School” program to them and she asked the Highline Schools Foundation for funding.
Having this opportunity in 3rd grade will help to prepare these students for more art experiences, as the move into 4th grade and are part of the Cedarhurst PTA funded Arts Corp program- which allows students to create with an artist in residence for 6 weeks, and in 5th grade where students learn to play music on the recorder and then go to the Seattle Symphony and play music along with the Symphony.
With funding from Highline Schools Foundation, we can give students an arts enrichment experience that they would not otherwise be able to have this year. If your organization will get us started, I will look for future funding from community partners to continue this program in our school. I believe that all children need more opportunities to express themselves creatively through art.
This year, with an Excel Grant through the Foundation and through the Seattle Art Museum Art Goes to School Program, I was able to have their Art Docents come to Cedarhurst and lead a focused art lesson with each of the four 3rd grade classes, one 4th grade class and four 6th grade classes (total of 238 students) during the month of March. In a one hour lesson for each classroom, the students learned about art elements, had a discussion about a piece of art and used their art skills to create their own artwork inspired by artists—some classes focusing on the artist Joan Miro and others on the elements of art.
I wanted to give the 3rd and 6th grade additional art experiences to complement what we already do at Cedarhurst in the arts for 4th and 5th grade, so that more students are getting at least some exposure in the visual arts. I do feel that this was accomplished by having the Art Docent visits. My hope is that the Cedarhurst PTA will be able to fund this project for the coming years and perhaps expand it to include 2nd grade as well.
Because of the limited resources and time that are available to teachers to teach art lessons, having an Art Docent come in to the classroom to lead a lesson really helps each teacher and classroom. Some of the teachers may not feel as confident in teaching the visual arts vocabulary and skills—so having a trained art teacher visit, encourages them.
One of the 6th grade teachers told me that because this experience with his students was so positive, he is interested in doing more art activities with his class. That’s also what I was hoping for—for our teachers to see the excitement that the kids have when they are given the time to be creative and do art projects.