A4L Mentor Artist Laura Luna and A4L Teaching Artists at a Spring 2012 workshop.

A few weekends ago, Arts for Learning’s program staff and Teaching Artists were able to come together to reflect upon the past school year’s residencies of the Building Assets program.

The Building Assets program began in 2004 with generous funding from The Children’s Trust. It is an arts program for elementary school children that uses the visual and performing arts to build communication, problem solving, and critical thinking skills, while fostering creativity and artistic proficiency. This year, our artists created after-school residencies at Silver Bluff Elementary, Southside Elementary, Greenglade Elementary, Mater Academy East, the Primary Learning Center, and North Beach Elementary, serving over 300 students in grades K-5.

A4L Program Director Ivy Bennett (left) and Artist Services Director Betsy Mullins (far right) lead a Teaching Artist Workshop.

The Reflection Session allowed the artists to come together and find out what their peers were able to accomplish with students and share stories and techniques they discovered along the way.  We learned how Beatriz Montañez was able to stage an incredible Bollywood-inspired production of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.”  Kira Tippenhauer marveled at how involved the parents were with their children’s creations at the Primary Learning Center.  Asser Saint-Val entertained the group with stories of how his students at Mater Academy East created board games based on their families.  The students at Greenglade Elementary created books using watercolor and woven details with Angel Condori and Maria Perez. Lisa Colandrea beamed when she spoke of her students at North Beach Elementary, who created their own portable fold-up art galleries to display at their school’s Family Night event. As many of the artists are out in the field at the same time, they rarely get to see what their peers are up to. Taking the time to share these stories helps create a sense of community among A4L  program staff and Teaching Artists.

As we are an organization that believes in practicing what we preach, we had to make some art as part of the discussion!  Mentor Teaching Artist Laura Luna led a printmaking activity that could very easily find its way in to some classrooms this fall. Every one at the workshop worked together to create an image that tied symbolically to the work of the artists seated beside them. Together, they created one print, representative of the entire group.  It was a lot harder than we thought it would be, but very, very worthwhile in the end!

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