Friday, June 1, 2012

Cultural Enrichment Programs in Schools

Does your school have a cultural enrichment program? I have the good fortune of being the Chairperson of the PTO Cultural Enrichment Committee at my kids' school. This means I am given a fixed budget and charged with bringing meaningful enrichment events to our school.

'Teacher me' loves this process because I get to bring the kinds of programs that were meaningful to my students when I was in the classroom. 'Writer me' loves this because I get to support other writers, performers, and artists in our area.

This past week brought two enrichment programs. First, Loree Griffin Burns met with grades 4 through 6 to talk about what real scientists are doing out in the field. The best part was when she told the kids that they are real scientists. Staff and students especially loved learning about field research kids can do to help further scientific learning.  Those projects are described in Ms. Burns' book, Citizen Scientists. The kids asked lots of questions and told stories about frogs, ladybugs, and butterflies they have seen in the wild. Ms. Burns encouraged them to get "photographic evidence" to help with identification. Following the presentation, one boy emailed her photos of the butterfly he spotted over the weekend and a teacher emailed photos of a frog she had observed in her garden. Both Ms. Burns and I love that students and teachers alike were looking closely at the natural world following her presentations.

Last night was the annual art show. This year featured a new project-the creation of a large mosaic 'Tree of Learning' to honor the school's retiring Principal, Jay Ryan. Dreamed up by the art teacher, Joanne Smith, this project involves all members of the school community. Every child, staff member, school committee member, etc. was asked to contribute one small object to be used in the mosaic. The Cultural Committee paid for mosaic artist, Jim Bowen, to teach the students about mosaics, guide the creation of the mosaic leaves during the art show, and assist with the installation of the tree some time in June.

We had so much fun choosing our special objects. My son chose a LEGO block because he loves LEGOs, but also because Mr. Ryan guided us through a building expansion and renovation.
My daughter chose a small button because "Mr. Ryan wears lots of button down shirts." I chose a bead I bought in Niamey, Niger to remind Mr. Ryan to keep a sense of adventure.

The entire process has been meaningful and fun. Now we can't wait to see the mural installed a little later this month.

Does your school have a committee to fund these kinds of cultural programs?  What great presenters have you had? Homeschoolers/unschoolers, you probably participate in programs like this as a matter of course. What suggestions do you have for schools?

Related Post: Drum to the Beat

No comments:

Post a Comment