Elementary School Teaching Artists Announced
Anderson Ranch President Hunter O’Hanian and Sarabeth Berk, the Children’s Program and Outreach Coordinator, are pleased to announce the six local artists serving as teaching artists in the innovative new integrated arts outreach program for 3rd and 4th grade elementary students in Crystal River Elementary School (CRES). The pilot program, running from December 2007 until May 2008, will reach approximately 50 students.
Anderson Ranch notified local artists throughout the Roaring Fork Valley about this creative opportunity in late summer 2007. In November, the Ranch reviewed applications and chose six artists to participate in the pilot program. Each artist attended a two day intensive training session in November to prepare for their time at Crystal River Elementary School.
The teaching artists are Bayard Hollins, Wewer Keohane, Kate Fisher, Tom Alpern, Kathy Chamberlin, and Annette Roberts-Gray. Sarabeth Berk will also serve as a teaching artist in this pilot program. Only four teaching artists will enter the classroom this current school year, with the others prepared to teach in future school years as the program develops.
Anderson Ranch President, Hunter O’Hanian says, “while our scope is national and international, we are an active participant in the local community of Aspen, Snowmass Village and the Roaring Fork Valley. This outreach program is one of the ways we promote arts in the area. It is important for us to support art education and young and established artists.”
The role of the teaching artist is to improve visual literacy using inquiry and works of art, connect the content of art making projects to the school curriculum, introduce students to art materials and techniques, and encourage them to make authentic art. Teaching artists teach at Crystal River Elementary School for 40 minutes one day a week for approximately 10 weeks with either a third or fourth grade class. Teaching artists are compensated by Anderson Ranch for their time, supplies, travel and training. A large portion of the funding for this pilot program was provided by Alpine Bank.
“I would do just about anything to introduce art to people at an early age because it truly changes lives. To be able to work with these wonderful kids who have incredible enthusiasm, charm and talent is such a gift. They are like sponges, soaking up every word, really intent on new images, grateful to see real art and get close to it as well as make their own. What a privilege it is to be in their presence and to share my great passion for art with such eager and bright young minds and hearts,” said teaching artist Wewer Keohane.
Julie Hawkins, the CRES art teacher, feels fortunate to have the teaching artists at the school, “We are extremely excited at Crystal River Elementary School to have visiting artists from Anderson Ranch come into the third and fourth grade art enrichment classes. This has enabled students to learn new techniques with an established artist that is focused creatively around their required classroom curriculum. What a great experience for students to work with actual working artists.”
Part of a teaching artist’s role is to exemplify what it actually means to be an artist; how to look at art, become inspired, experiment with ideas, and reflect on a project during the process. Sarabeth Berk noticed that, “The moment I walked in the door the first day, one student came up to me and asked, ‘Are you a real artist? I’ve never met a real artist before!’, and there have been many other notable comments. It makes me realize that creating an environment for meaningful art experiences is so important for this age group. Teaching students to use their original ideas, not just doing something because it’s what the teacher expects, is such a valuable skill.”
Sarabeth Berk and Wewer Keohane began working with their groups on December 3 and December 7 respectively. Berk’s essential question is, in what ways do shapes influence design? Through a mosaic project, students are exploring connections between geometry and art which is a focus of the 3rd grade math curriculum. Keohane is having fourth grade students inquire about what makes something whole? and explore that question through a bookmaking and printmaking project that integrates fractions, additive, and subtractive properties.
Each teaching artist develops a 10 week project plan based on an essential question that is aligned with the grade level standards of the Roaring Fork School District.
At the start of each class, students discuss different works of art before making their own. Each teaching artist chooses specific artworks to expand critical thinking and visual literacy. For one session, Berk chose the work of artist Chuck Close because his work involves shapes as building blocks in larger compositions while Keohane used Wayne Thiebaud’s delicious cake paintings to talk about fractions and parts versus a whole. With original prints produced by Anderson Ranch Editions and art created by the teaching artists, the elementary school students will experience original art, along with famous reproductions, first-hand.
Contact Sarabeth Berk at 970-923-3181 x204 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this and other Ranch community outreach initiatives.