After school art program kicks off - The Echo News
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After school art program kicks off

Students become the teacher and children, the artist

By Chin Yi Oh | Echo

The Taylor art department will begin the After School Art program for elementary students in grades K-6 on campus. Art education and pre-art therapy majors will be teaching the lessons under the supervision of Professor Kathy Herrmann.

The program, which is part of the Elementary Art Methods class, begins today and will run four consecutive Fridays, from today until Nov. 10, beginning at 3:30 p.m. and running to 5 p.m. The program is a component of the course and is offered every other year when the class is in session.

“Students prepare the art lessons based on a theme that they determine; it can be seasons, an artist or a country,” Herrmann said. “It gives them some pre-service experience of teaching and working with children, which is, to me, really important for them to have that as they get ready to go out and be either art therapists or art educators.”

The eight students in the class are divided into groups of two, resulting in two teachers per group. A typical class would have 10 to 15 students from kindergarten up to sixth grade.

Community children ages K-6 participate in after school art programming guided by Taylor students. (Photograph provided by Kathy Herrmann)

Community children ages K-6 participate in after school art programming guided by Taylor students. (Photograph provided by Kathy Herrmann)

For Herrmann, art is a way for children to express ideas and feelings they may not be able to verbalize. Art is more than just having fun, it’s learning and expressing thoughts and ideas.

“I like teaching art because students should always have that access to some other form of curriculum, where they’re not having to take tests and not having to memorize math facts or vocab words,” said sophomore Erica Bell. “Art and music is a form of self-expression.”

Students come up with a theme they teach to the kids, make examples of all the lessons and have all the materials needed for the class to be organized. Students also have to go beyond making a simple lesson plan by researching their lesson plans and determining what is important for a certain age group, while helping kids express themselves through art.

Junior McKenna Gartzke and sophomore Leah Groeling, pre-art therapy majors, chose a “Wild West” as the theme for their lessons. They plan to have their kindergarteners make totem poles on the first day of class to decorate the classroom.

“The use of totem poles is to help the kids understand the symbolism that is represented on the poles and what the Native Americans value,” Gartzke said. “I want to really help (the kids) understand Native American culture.”

For Gartzke, the hardest part of the program is meeting all the kids’ needs, making sure every child is on the same level of learning and working to keep five-year-olds focused on the task at hand.

Bell, an art education major, thinks the hardest part of the program is the time limit, as it is only four weeks with a duration of an hour and a half each week. To Bell, the amount of projects she and her partner want to do and the amount of tasks they can actually complete are different due to the time restraints on their classes.

At the end of the four classes, an art exhibit showcasing the students’ work will be on display on Monday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. in Metcalf.

“Children are uninhibited artists; they aren’t as hung up about having things just look a certain way, so I think it’s fun for college students to see what children are doing,” Herrmann said. “And to stay connected with the free spirit of heart, because they do some creative things.”

The exhibit is open to all and a chance for children to bring their families to view their artwork.

Bell believes children seeing college students in the exhibit, supporting their artwork and getting excited about the art that they made would speak volumes into their lives. Bell thinks this would inspire them to keep making art or to keep engaging in healthy forms of self-expressions.

“The class is very talented and passionate about what they’re studying,” Bell said. “So for art education and art therapy majors to have campus support would be awesome, because we put in a lot of work, and for other students to see the result of that work and to support us would be awesome as well.”

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