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Lincoln Academy

April 1, 2016

Ceramics and much more

Jonathan and Kirsten

Jonathan and Kirsten

I had a delightful visit to Lincoln Academy in Newcastle recently to meet Jonathan Mess and learn about the schools ceramics program. As I passed through the doorway I knew I had entered a very unique environment. First of all, you need to know that my undergrad concentration was clay. I was so excited to see a well equipped classroom for high school students! And, the feeling of action was alive and everywhere! Containers of clay in every stage, large wedging tables, electric wheels, work spaces, tall and deep shelving for storage, glazes in large buckets, a separate nice size kiln room, pieces in progress and finished work on display, and inspirational sayings on the wall.

Most importantly students were engaged, at ease and very creative! And, there was tons of student clay work and a wide variety. Probably my favorite part of visiting visual and performing arts classrooms is chatting with the students. These students were proud of what they were creating, articulate, and more than happy to answer my questions and tell me stories about their work. And there was a wonderful sense of community. Students learn not only how to create but how to manage and maintain materials and supplies. One student came at the end of the day to load the kiln.

IMG_1902You might be wondering how I learned about the ceramics program at Lincoln Academy. Not long ago I met with Fran Rudoff, Executive Director of Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle. Fran and I were having a conversation about the work they are doing at the center incorporating STEAM and learning opportunities for educators (more on that in a later post). Fran suggested that I visit Jonathan and learn about his ceramics program.

I emailed Jonathan and he called me. As you know most people don’t pick up the phone and call today. It is so much easier (in my mind) to email. With IMG_1903teachers busy schedules, I always use email as my first mode of contact. So, I was surprised by the phone call and one thing that Jonathan said on the phone: “I am an artist who happens to teach on the side.” You can view his very interesting work at THIS LINK. And, you can see his students work in this post.

When Jonathan arrived six years ago at Lincoln Academy there were 14 students in the ceramics class. Today he has about 80 each trimester. The program has grown and is thriving! Students are going on after high school and majoring in it. During the week I had visited he had a student accepted at Alfred University (a first)! Very exciting for the student and of course, for Jonathan as well! She was working on a mask that had small vessels built into the back to hold plantings (see photo). She was thinking about what had influenced her to want to take this pathway. We talked about her elementary art teacher who happens to be a dear friend of mine.

IMG_1907At the end of the day we walked to the recently opened ATEC building which stands for Applied Technology and Engineering Center. It is kind of a cross between a STEAM center and a modern day industrial arts shop with a very creative twist. At the center of the center I met Kirsten Campbell who is the metals teacher and an artist. You can see her work at THIS LINK.

Between Kirsten and Jonathan Lincoln Academy students have really unique learning opportunities being provided by them in the arts. If you are a ceramics teacher considering visiting a school with a ceramics program, I suggest that you contact Jonathan at mess@lincolnacademy.org or perhaps just give him a call!

Thanks for your time Jonathan and Kirsten!

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