Below is an inspirational story written by Deirdre Potash, an art educator who strives to bring art back to schools, universities, and community centres. "There is a niche market for public schools that have cut down their art programs," explains Deirdre. "I go to schools all over Quebec and Ontario and bring art back into the classroom."
Seven years ago, at the age of 48, I decided to pursue my dream.
I was and still am an art educator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. When I started working there thirty years ago, I was one of four art educators hired to rekindle art classes at the museum. We are now a team of over 25 passionate and unique educators in our field. However, I began to wonder, how can I combine my part-time job as an art educator with my desire and need to do something more?
With budget cuts in schools, the first thing that goes is the art teacher; next are the field trips. How can I reach more people? I asked myself. How can I bring art back to the classroom? Every year I make a list of what I want to accomplish for the following year. And every year I write on that list: I want to do well and to give back. So many children never get to sculpt with clay or paint or create for the sheer pleasure it brings. I wanted to spark the imagination and curiosity of children everywhere with fun, artistic, interactive and educational activities.
And so with Art Comes to School I have realized that dream. Through this program, students are inspired by history and the world around them in a fun, stimulating learning environment, and they create art. Art Comes to School promotes the importance that art plays in enabling every student to succeed in school. Focus is placed on helping students achieve competence in the arts and in the other subjects and skills essential to their success in school, work and life.
In the next five years, my team and I will continue to expand Art Comes to School throughout Quebec and Ontario with specialized programs for daycares, preschools, elementary, high school, CEGEP, universities and community and adult programs in urban and rural regions. Art is a great tool with which to enhance ESL, language arts, history and social studies, and it’s an effective vehicle for curriculum delivery. It provides deep, enriching learning experiences that students retain; it extends learning. It allows us to explore, create and share.
Do you know of anyone else who brings art to schools? Or do you have tips or ideas on how to facilitate the integration of arts education in Canada? Spill the beans in the comment section below.
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