Studio to School

Portrait of an Oaklea Graduate (and Tiger!)

Collaboration. Communication. Self-Awareness. Creativity.

Oaklea Middle School students are painting these words on a tiger mural they created on their school walls. They are smiling, joyful and proud.

Over the past few years, Lane Arts Council has been working extensively with Oaklea teachers to truly make a difference at their school. While we are providing arts integration in the classroom, we are exploring ways to create a unifying framework for the school and create a pathway for how the arts support their goals.

We create shared vision for arts education programming through an inclusive and ongoing planning process.

We ask, “What traits do we want Oaklea students to embody when they graduate?” This important question opens a collective initiative to create a Portrait of an Oaklea Student.

All 500 Oaklea students were asked envision and submit ideas. Students submit hundreds of pieces of paper with ideas.

The teachers are working in groups to distill the trait . “Grit!” a teacher comments. “Engagement!” “Collaboration!” Ideas are flowing and a creative process is unfolding.

After several school wide and teacher team meetings, teachers decide that these eight traits are most essential for our Oaklea students:

Team 5: Understand our World and Self-Socially Awareness

Team 6: Communicator and Collaborator

Team 7: Academic Grit and Goal Setting

Team 8: Creative and Critical Thinkers

As the school is finalizing these traits, Betsy Wolfston, our teaching artist says, “Let’s make this thinking visible!”

Imagination International Incorporated a distributor of the renowned Copic markers for North America, resides in Eugene and is passionate about arts education. They provide schools with a muralist to engage students in quality arts experiences.

The synergy keeps growing!

Through ArtCore, Betsy created an ArtSquad, a team of students who are interested in deepening their arts experiences. They work with the artist Bayne Garner to create four tiger murals (their school mascot) in the school walls.

With student input, Bayne draws students’ ideas, puts it on a projector and traces it on the walls.

And then the students are given free range to create. Each grade level works on a mural, adding the traits that represent the traits of their grade level. When the kids started working, the school becomes alive and students have a new experience of themselves.

Seventh grader Sam says, “In life people are doing these cool things, but I didn’t think I would be doing it myself!”

Students are blown away by themselves and their abilities. They didn’t know they had it in them!

Art is lifting up the students and the entire school, stimulating their imagination to pursue ideas. We all share a commitment to bolster arts education at this school.

The murals are now billboards for school, representing what is important to them. And the teachers are using the murals as a teaching tool.

Ms. Kulm brings the students to the mural and asks, “What are you finding here? What is important to you?” These traits are becoming an essential part of their learning experience and provide inspiration for the entire school everyday.






Betsy Wolfston contributed and Liora Sponko wrote this post.

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