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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

July 25, 2018

Leonard Middle School – Old Town

Leonard Middle School art teacher and MALI teacher leader Adele painting student

Adele Drake became a Teacher Leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative during phase 7 (2017). The work she has underway is a great example of approaching curriculum and assessment to meet the needs students in a very authentic way. She addresses their needs of today. Adele’s ongoing collaborative work is helping to prepare them for the future, all the while empowering them for the challenges of their world. Not to mention this is REALLY REALLY COOOOOOL! Read on…

In September 2012, the Leonard Middle School in Old Town art teacher Adele Drake and school counselor, Tracey O’Connell began the Leonard Middle School garden. Adele and Tracey shared a vision that small organic gardens were the optimal way of providing high quality produce to their local community and that this collaborative effort would create a nurturing environment where students would thrive. In the process students would be empowered by creating a space, the garden: a functional work of art which produced food.

Their first consultant for the project was Kate Garland from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. She agreed to meet and share her considerable expertise. She counseled them to get a soil test and helped them select a suitable location for the garden. The university has been a great resource in many ways. Kate has presented to the school’s garden club and art classes many times. They have had many volunteers from the master gardeners program and visited the university green houses.

After getting approval from the superintendent, they started digging. They soon found that digging was not an option due to debris and clay deposits in the soil. Faced with these challenges, they opted for raised beds. That first fall, they started with one 3’ X 3’ raised bed, a 50 pound bag of compost and several bulbs of garlic which they planted. Their dream of having a school garden had begun. That spring their first crop of garlic emerged from the earth.

COA volunteer Teagan and Susan preparing materials.

Adele wrote her first grant which was a service learning grant to construct an earthloom which would be the centerpiece of our garden. As the Leonard Middle School art teacher Adele has found the garden has provided a way of integrating the arts with the study of other disciplines. They have had so much support for this endeavor that they have built a garden shed, a greenhouse, several raised beds and fencing. Students designed the garden layout, help to create a gardenloom, made mosaic tile stepping stones and have most recently designed functional sculptures which collect water and beautify the garden at the same time. In a community where food insecurity is a reality the garden as a focal point for the curriculum makes sense.

Talk about trust!

This year they worked with Susan Camp to grow gourds into self-portraits. This project was funded by the Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant. Susan’s work is a natural fit to the already established goals of Adele Drake’s arts curriculum. The lesson concept: Harvesting Identity / you are what you eat was the focus throughout the process. Susan invited the to be co creators; they made plaster casts from their faces, made molds, and used these molds to grow gourds. The gourds are flourishing in the garden and after harvested in the fall will be used as wall hangings and made into bowls to be used at the culminating event which is a community feast.

Adele reflects: Large-scale food producers shape crops, such as watermelons, in order to make packing and shipping more efficient. Our project subverts this practice, shaping gourds to create portraits that are individual and reflect both the character of the subject and the growing fruit.

I see how engaged these students have been in the process and I know that I am getting them to think differently about food, art and the future.

I hope that students will be involved in growing food for their communities and that they will understand the importance of food and art in bringing communities together.

Trusting enough to take a selfie together – even if he can’t see.

I have learned a lot about formative assessment and the need to collect evidence which is triangulated from different modalities. I plan to evaluate students on their use of media and techniques and on their ability to analyze the process of using these materials and techniques.I will collect this evidence through observations, student reflection and teacher feedback.I will creating opportunities to analyze the process and the product with rubrics. Students will also reflect on where the process takes them through a critical response process which will help them grow as artists.

College of the Atlantic student volunteer in the program, Teagan reflects: Waiting!

I was amazed at how both students and teachers worked together and communicated throughout the process of making casts. I felt that everyone was looking out for each other. I believe that this sense of collaboration is needed for engaging in broader dialogues within food systems. I see this project as a way for people to take action creating new relationships with food and community.

Leonard Middle School Principal David Crandall reflects: Gardens grow communities, not just of plants, but of students. Students that are engaged in the school garden are focused on growing plants and also growing themselves. Being a part of fostering life and working with peers to maintain a productive garden is a motivation that encourages attendance and engagement at our school.

Our Garden Club has an active role in managing our school garden and they continue to work toward more and better resources to support their work. Under the guidance and leadership of Tracey O’Connell and Adele Drake, the students have sprouted into successful young gardeners that grow vegetables, flowers, relationships and communities. The group dreams big and we can’t wait to see what blossoms next!

I’m sure there will be a great celebration when students see their own faces on the gourds this summer. This is a unit that the students will always remember!

Imagine what you might do with funding from the Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant?! Grant application deadline will be in March 2019 for the 2019-1920 school year. Watch this blog and the Maine Arts Commission site for more information.

Waiting!

Waiting patiently for the paris-craft layer to dry before taking them off.

Example of the gourd about to grown into the mould.

Example of the gourds in the garden once they’ve come out of the mold.

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