This afternoon, I had the honor of being invited to the 5th Annual Education Luncheon to celebrate the artistic partnerships through the Woodruff Arts Center and Atlanta Public Schools. As I listened to the positive impact with just ONE art-rich experience for at-risk students, I began to reflect on my first student tour of the High Museum.
There was magic at Alcova Elementary. The school was a perfect combination between eccentric teacher personalities and an energetic young community in Dacula, Georgia. It was the first school that captured my heart. I worked with them for seven years and NEVER taught the same project twice. We changed light blubs in the ceiling to create black art light, explored digital photography, and worked in collaborative groups to design surfboards. I wanted to change the students’ experiences and show them the fun of art! In my last year, I wanted to challenge myself! ArtAccess, a free program for Title I school to visit the High Museum became my next hurdle.
If you know anything about Gwinnett County Schools, they build MASSIVE schools! Alcova at my highest enrollment has nearly 1,300 students. So applying for the free museum trip proposed a logistical problem with each grade level having more than the two hundred-student cap. I filled out two separate applications for half of my second grade team one day and then the other half the following day. I made color-coded nametags and divided students into groups with teachers and chaperons. I designed a shirt for our students to be identical for safety. I created an activity extension mini-sketchbook, so students could connect their learning to social studies and writing. I scheduled buses, organized lunches, and was NERVOUS about taking 235 students to Atlanta, nearly 27 miles away from home!!! The first day arrived and with a small bus delay, we missed our check-in by thirty minutes, but the staff was amazing. The kids were set-up with individual guided tours and lunch on the lawn. And day two was smooth sailing!
Looking back on the stress of this field trip was nothing compared to the smiles from our two-day journey! Allowing my students to see a slice of art life outside of the art room of Alcova Elementary was remarkable as an observer. The smiles, laughter, and sleeping children on the way home, STILL warms my heart today! These amazingly creative students would be in 7th grade and I hope they remember the awesome adventure to the High as Alcova "Goes West"!
Art is a powerful medium! I was so grateful to hear powerful woman like Dr. Meria Carstarphen and Ann Cramer attest the power of arts have on the heart! And so fortunate, I get a first hand view in my classroom everyday!!! Thank you the Woodruff Arts Center for being partners in art education and supporting me and my students during my 14 year career!
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