Literacy, Art Merge at Milwood Elementary
Teacher Creates Art Walk for Annual Literacy Night
At Milwood Elementary School, students combined a celebration of literacy with their love of the arts thanks to art teacher Abbey Ruffer.
Milwood’s literacy night was an “Art Walk,” which showcased the arts throughout the building.
In addition to having school musical ensembles performing in the lobby to greet guests, Ruffer lined the hallways with student art work and writing and had community groups such as Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, the Family Center for the Arts, and the Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department offering exhibits and demonstrations.
“I wanted to create a chance for families to come in and learn about art programs in the community,” Ruffer said.
The project was funded with a $750 Jack Hamilton Grant from Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo.
Ruffer set up an interactive painting project, in which students and family members were encouraged to write on and to paint a canvas, which will become a permanent installation in the school. The classroom teachers and students worked in the weeks before literacy night to create special art works and to write artists’ statements about their pieces to share their thoughts about what art means to them.
“I see kids struggle on a daily basis with behavior or frustration in their classrooms,” Ruffer said. “They may not understand how they’re feeling. I don’t have a lot of those same issues in the art room. I think part of the reason is the subject matter, and we talk about feelings. It’s calming and relaxing in the art room.
“But we only see kids once a week for 50 minutes in art class. I wanted to give them more opportunities to create and to tell them about opportunities outside of school as well. It’s a different way of learning that’s important for every child.”