This year, Marty worked through VSA arts in a variety of classroom settings, and tells us about her experiences:
Mill Valley Middle School, with teacher Jane Quattlander:
This year I found a group of challenging middle school children that are in the process of being main streamed. Students struggled with focus and behavior, but after the first week I was able to set boundaries. I always remind students that if we are going to be doing glass art, that I needed to make sure that they we have trust, in order not to get hurt.
One student, Carlos, turned out to be proud of his work, and created freely when he wasn’t being distracted. I love being with them, especially when I can break through their ‘attitudes’, and see the smile on their face with finished projects.
Mill Valley Middle School with teacher Brian Duncan:
This is a classroom of Special Needs children who were sweet, open, eager and full of love. These are children live with developmental and physical differences such as Autism, Downs Syndrome Cerebral Palsy . The staff provides fantastic support, so we were able to work with glass to make fused necklaces and plates. Students painted with various materials, and were proud of the gifts that they created for the holidays.
For my last day of this project, the walls were covered with their art, and they brought cupcakes with hearts on them to say thank you.
Braun High School/Grant Grover with teachers Tom Laughlin, Mary Meyer and Mikal Smith
Working at with the students at Braun High School and Grant Grover is the reason that I continue to teach at my age of 71. Many of these children are emotionally wounded and I feel blessed to help them slowly chip away at their shells tha tthey surround themselves with.
For example, one girl who was rude and withdrawn the first years that I taught, now loves art… paints and draws Lemors, and asks for hugs. Another child, who had suffered abandonment, would throw chairs and hit the wall when he got frustrated. I have watched him turn this around, and to become a loving little boy making gifts for hisfoster mom. He helps me with my cart to get my material in and out of my car. He is no longer afraid to paint what he wants. We listen to music when we work, and I am often told by the other staff that they didn’t know that these children could be focused for so long.
Working through the outbursts of anger, the sneering attitudes and their self hatred is a constant, but we get through it. After years of returning to these classrooms, I am delighted by the transformations that take place, and knowing that I have provided a venue for inspiration and growth for these students. Another great year thanks to the generous funding that Youth in Arts provides for these programs!