by Mentor Artist Katie Issel Pitre
As part of the new Strategic Vision of Youth in Arts to create model arts education programs K-8th grade, Mentor Artists Sophie Cooper and Katie Issel Pitre have been teaching New Media and Theatre Arts to 180 Davidson middle school students daily.
Beginning in late August Sophie and Katie have been working with 10 classes, grades 6th – 8th to provide arts enrichment for a student population that until this year had not received any elective classes. This year, Principal Bob Marcucci wanted to change this, partnering with Youth in Arts these students are half way through the first year of this pilot program and are getting in the swing of art making.
The project that the students have been working on has been cumulative – we’ve been building skills, teamwork, discussing and activating themes through play writing, college making, reflecting on values, watching many films – critiquing them and learning more about the way to use film to send a message.
In Ms Cooper’s New Media class students worked towards a photography project taking portraits of hands and also of eyes. In Ms. Katie’s Theatre Arts class students composed collaborative poetry using the anaphora “With these hands we can…” and ” People think that I… But if they really knew me…”
Pairing these two projects we used the photography from Ms. Cooper’s class, and recorded the audio from Ms. Katie’s classes and created two differently themed collections of films. One collection pairs the photography of hands with the poetry “With these hands we can…”. The other collection of films pairs photography of the eyes and the poetry “People think that I… but if they really knew me…”.
The final for their first semester was a film screening of both of these film collections. Students observed all of the films, and then reflected on the process, the messages, considered what was missing and then brainstormed about what they want to make their next films about. Some topics that were mentioned were making films about their lives, about kids who choose to be sober, about their friendships, about their immigrations stories, and more.
For students who have never had an arts residency like this Sophie and I are proud of what they were able to accomplish. Their artistry has increased, as has their teamwork, self confidence, perspectives, and
Fall is almost upon us an Youth in Arts is back in the swing of things! We have returned to quite a few schools and have added some new sites as well.
Mentor Artist Julia James, began teaching visual art in K-5th grade at a new site, Two Rock Elementary in late August. She is working with the students on an observational drawing project in their school garden, as well as various forms of printmaking and bookmaking. She loves taking in the beautiful West Marin landscape on her drive to Two Rock, which is situated halfway between downtown Petaluma and Tomales.
Shawna Alapa’i was thrilled to return for a back-to-back year of teaching Hawaiian Hula and Storytelling to the K-6th grade students at Sonoma Mountain Elementary in Petaluma. Her students learned the basics in their last 12 week residency, so she is looking forward to teaching them more complicated movements, while expanding their knowledge of the dance style steeped in culture and history. As Shawna says, “I strive to teach the flow of the Aloha spirit through dance and sound.”
Though Youth in Arts has worked with Cascade Canyon School for a number of years, they are exploring visual art for the first time with the help of Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Cathy, an award winning cartoonist and writer, is sharing her special skills with the 3rd-8th grade students in Fairfax. They are working together to learn how to tell their story through drawing, painting, printmaking and of course cartooning.
In addition to working in our model program at Davidson Middle School, Katie Issel Pitre began her Devised Theater residency for 8th & 10th graders at the Canal Alliance last week. This 12 week advisory class at the Canal Alliance’s University Prep program is focused on investigating self and building confidence. Katie will help the students create, write and perform a collaborative piece that explores issues pertinent to them.
We have several more Mentor Artists beginning their residencies in the coming months. Stay tuned!
by Mentor Artist Katie Issel Pitre
This year I had the joy of joining Youth In Arts’ roster and getting placement at Edna Maguire in Mill Valley, and Olive Elementary in Novato.
I was placed in three Special Day Classrooms: a K-5 classroom, and two 2nd-5th grade classrooms. I used my music background to create music classes for these students and teachers.
After an observation visit, I chose my songs based on students’ prior knowledge of songs and their interests. I was able to use the same songs for all classes. I created a felt board and felt images of objects mentioned in each song that were tactile and stimulating for students to touch.
These boards were the most notable aspect of this class, as they were created specifically for these students and to engage their senses, develop social/emotional skills, utilize fine motor skills and provide opportunity to use language skills to identify objects and name objects.
Watching students engage not only with the felt boards, but also with the drums, shakers and songs, I was able to access multiple intelligences that accessed the whole student. Over time, my relationship with them deepened and I was able to support their development in closer alignment with their teachers goals. It became clear that my weekly presence was having an impact, that relationships on many levels were being built and that IEP goals were being reached to everyone’s satisfaction.
The unspoken link in the chain is supportive teachers who are open, participating, engaged, and communicating with me weekly to maintain standards and fulfill the residency goals. If it were not for the teachers modeling relationships with me and the music, the students wouldn’t have had such rapid growth and such deep success.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity to teach music to these students and with these teachers, and hope to have many more opportunities to share and play in music.