Posts Tagged ‘Americans Who Tell the Truth’

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Samantha Smith Challenge

November 19, 2020

Guidelines available

The guidelines for Americans Who Tell the Truth‘s (AWTT) Samantha Smith Challenge are posted on the website (www.americanswhotellthetruth.org). Connie Carter, Education Director, from AWTT hopes that you and your students will take this opportunity to engage in this challenge as we work collectively to find creative and powerful ways to make our society stronger.

MISSION

The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for Maine middle and high school students that uses art to to build a bridge between the classroom and the world to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them.  

Maine student, Peace Activist, 1972-1985

SSC 2020-2021: Show US Who You Are

As Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) reflects on the past year and looks forward to the months ahead, we are asking students this year to focus on one of three critical themes – racial equity, climate change, and health care. The SSC asks students to use their voices on one of these topics, take action, and Show US Who You Are. AWTT portrait subjects model how the beliefs, voices, and actions of youth can influence important social justice issues. Check out: 

Kelsey Juliana
Zyahna Bryant
Claudette Colvin
Becci Ingram
Rachel Corrie
Barbara Johns
LeAlan Jones
Nicole and Jonas Maines
Chloe Maxmin
and, of course, Samantha Smith

There is no deadline for registering unless you want to have a virtual visit Robert Shetterly and Connie. Please contact Connie Carter at connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org with question or if you’d like to connect with any of the living portrait subjects about your projects.  

A warm message from Connie: “Thank you all for being phenomenal educators in a time that demands so much.  Your students are very fortunate to have you!

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Art and Climate Change

November 2, 2020

Student response 

Thank you to Cynthia Pease, art teacher at Deer Isle Stonington High School, for providing the information for this blog post.

The Deer Isle Stonington High School 8th grade Art students have produced a number of paintings reflecting their thoughts and feelings about climate change and their global concerns.  In this show, you will see hope, anger, humor, and a plea for everyone to wake-up and take action.  Above all else, the art show reflects the concerns our students have for their future.  This show is about raising awareness!

In order to achieve this level of work, students researched the topic they connected most with.  There were weekly critiques and class discussions on each topic chosen.  Sketches were created and refined with a focus on the Elements and Principles of Art and included Type Face as an element of their designs.  Color compositions and final drawings were created prior to the final work being painted.  These students “earned” a higher level of recognition because of the hard work, grit, awareness, and level of honesty they have portrayed in their final work. 

To bring this show into the public light, we give great thanks to the climate change organization, Climate Action Net (CAN), and to the DIAA Gallery for hosting this show.  Other elements of this initiative included a conversation with these young artists about their work and the climate situation they are inheriting. The interviews were conducted by Rob Shetterly of Americans Who Tell the Truth.  The paintings will be displayed on the CAN website in order to select a painting which  powerfully communicates a young person’s view of Climate Change. The most popular painting will be reproduced on ‘T’ shirts and offered for sale in order to raise money for school ecological initiatives, such as solar panels.

Special thanks to Tony Ferrara for his support, commitment and passion to inspire and motivate young people to take action.  From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!  Our deep gratitude goes to DIAA for hosting this event.

Cynthia expresses many thanks to Dennis Duquette for positive energy and support and Little Eagle for making all the frames.

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Samantha Smith Challenge

June 11, 2020

St. John’s Catholic School – Brunswick

Students working in the classroom before the pandemic

Like other education initiatives this year the Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) has been turned upside down a bit. The The planned Samantha Smith Day celebration to bring together participating students from throughout Maine was canceled for June 1. However, some schools have continued their projects working with their teachers remotely.

One such school is St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick. The focus of Tiffany Jones 5th graders project is ‘disabilities’ and they have chosen to write and illustrate a children’s book. They are working with publisher Just Write Books based in Topsham. The book is about animals with disabilities, e.g. a moose who is blind, and how they come together to a place of acceptance and understanding. This project is a great example of using the arts to deliver an important message and of staying connected and not losing momentum in a time that has thrown us all a bit off course.

MISSION

Rob Shetterly

The Samantha Smith Challenge is a dynamic educational program for Maine middle school students designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world and to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenge and problems they see around them.

The Samantha Smith Challenge is a program of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Artist Robert Shetterly is the founder and Connie Carter works with Rob to bring the program to classrooms across Maine. It is an amazing program!

THE STORY

They have 9 animals from the story in Life On The Farm:
  • Maddie Smith – Jewel the Peacock has Spina Bifida
  • Eliza Davis – Everly the Raccoon has diabetes
  • Maeve Coughlin – Nicole the Fox has Autism
  • Tessa Couture – Puff the Ostrich has Anxiety
  • Wyatt Papernik – Maverick the Moose has Blindness
  • Aurora Blier – Carrie the Cricket has Deafness
  • Ava O’Connell – Fluffernutter the Deer has Depression
  • Abbie Minzner – Buddy the Dog has ADHD
  • Mrs. Jones – Tom the Turkey has Asthma

The animals arrive at a farm where they don’t “fit in”. The story shows how they come together and enjoy playing… learning that it is ‘Best to fit in with the ones who Stand Out’:)

BOOK COVER

STUDENTS RESPONSE

Describe your animal character and something about them that is unique.

  • Jewel, the peacock,  has two different sides.One is competitive and daring and one is kind and loving
  • Nicole, the fox, is unique because she doesn’t care whether or not people know about her “disability”
  • Everley, the raccoon, is special, caring and creative, she cares about other animals and doesn’t let her                                           diabetes define who she is.

What was the most exciting part of this project?

  • The most exciting part of this project was knowing that we were actually publishing a book. Helping the world become a better place. I’ve always wanted to write a book or do something in the creative field. Being able to do this with my class is just an amazing experience I’ll carry throughout my entire life – Eliza Davis
  • Doing it with my friends and teacher. – Maddie  Smith
  • I think the most exciting part of this project was the fact that we could actually get this book published, which is amazing. – Maeve Coughlin
  • Maybe getting money from the book and giving it to charities.- Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik
What skill or tidbit that you learned that you can take with you throughout your lifetime?
  • Well, something I learned was not really a skill, but I didn’t previously know about spina bifida.  I also learned how cooperative you have to be to write a book. – Maeve Coughlin
  • A skill that i learned that i’m certain i will take with me is the use of different words. Will writing Life on the Farm a lot of our writing sounded very repetitive. There’s so many words out there so we learned how to use them. Often I find writing just needs a variety of words to spice it up a little. – Eliza Davis
  • Being patient. – Maddie Smith
  • Be grateful and be respectful in life. – Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik
If you were to write and illustrate your own book what might the title be?
  • Deep within. – Maddie Smith
  • If I were to write my own book it would most likely be a novel. I would call it a night on the train. A murder mystery story where each time they leave the carrige there numbers decline. – Eliza Davis
  • I would probably write a nature book, I don’t know exactly what I would name it though. – Maeve Coughlin
  • Learning about  Disabilities For Kids – Medal of Honor Recipient / Wyatt Papiernik 
FROM TIFFANY
“Nancy Randolph is the amazing Publicist. We are getting so so close to publishing!!  We have an ISBN number and may have a first published copy by June 8th!! YAHOOOOOOO!”
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Americans Who Tell the Truth

January 11, 2020

New project

Americans Who Tell the Truth will select twenty (20) indigenous, immigrant, and rural middle level and high school youth (two from each of ten schools) to create their self-portraits and write companion narratives about an event, person, and/or belief that helped them become who they are today.  AWTT and Maine artist Robert Shetterly and Maine educator Connie Carter will work with them in a day-long workshop at the Center for Innovation in Education at Thomas College to help them begin their self-portraits and narratives. The workshop date will be between March 10-20, 2020 (exact date to be determined).

The workshop will include the students and accompanying teacher/s (art and other disciplines) from participating schools as well as pre-service teachers from Thomas College.  Students will begin their self-portraits and narratives and teacher participants will learn to coach these students in their creations of art and writing in order to support them when they return to their respective schools.  Hopefully, teachers will coach additional students in their respective schools in order to broaden the dialogues among indigenous, immigrant, and rural youth in Maine.  
Finished portraits will be displayed at the Samantha Smith Challenge Celebration at Thomas College on June 1 and also at the Maine State House in Augusta.  Portrait artists and their teachers will hopefully accompany their portraits to both of these events. Plans for additional exhibits are still to be determined.  
The primary goal of this project is to give a voice to a representative group of indigenous, immigrant, rural and marginalized youth in Maine with the intent of using their work as a way to initiate a dialogue about diverse Maine identities and the power of the arts to help inspire that conversation.  Additionally, we hope to give teachers the tools to use the arts as a valuable interdisciplinary tool to bring explorations of Maine’s history, economics, cultural identity, and landscape to the school curriculum.  
Please direct any questions and concerns you have about this project to Connie Carter at connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org.  Because initial participation in this project is limited, please let us know by January 24 if you are interested in being a part of this empowering opportunity by e-mailing connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org  
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Americans Who Tell the Truth

October 17, 2019

Samantha Smith Challenge

Americans Who Tell the Truth is excited to announce that the registration for the 2019-2020 Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is now open! As we launch the sixth year of the SSC, we know that middle school students across Maine will be tackling important issues and modeling for all of us what it means to be an engaged citizen.
The following quotation from a 2018-19 SSC student gives us hope for the future and makes us smile just a little:
“The Samantha Smith Challenge inspired us to take action on these issues that have been going on for decades and inspired us to not be couch potatoes.” 
We are enthusiastic that this year’s SSC will continue its focus on the different aspects of individual and group identities as students learn to become change-making citizens. We are again asking SSC students to think first about their own identity, considering identity in terms of peace, ethnicity, gender, age, and also those identities that are easier to experiment with — beliefs, clothing styles, groups they join, issues that engage, etc. How do these characteristics affect expectations they have for themselves and expectations others have for them? How can knowing the characteristics of their own identity enhance their appreciation for the identities of others?
Then, as they look around, in their community or across the state, nations, and world, think about these identities and expectations affect others. How does this combination of identity and expectation connecting t o the justice and equity issues they see? Finally, select issues of concern and become activists! All of the steps are provided in the SSC guidelines.

Mark your calendars for this year’s celebration which will be held on Monday, June 1, 2020. Besides having the opportunity to share important work on many social justice issues, there will be an inspirational program that emphasizes how important youth activism is to our world; and, once again, there will be the portrait unveiling of a young activist!

As in past years, Robert Shetterly and Connie Carter are available to do workshops with your students. It is always a highlight to meet your students and experience their energy and actions for their chosen issues.

Please go to THIS LINK to register (remember you can register now even if you plan to introduce the project later in the year):

Questions? Please contact Connie Carter at connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org.

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Americans Who Tell the Truth

January 9, 2019

Syracuse University curriculum connections

Students preparing for their solo performance based on one of Rob Shetterly’s paintings.

If you are a Maine Arts Education blog follower you know that I’ve included a handful of posts on Americans Who Tell the Truth and artist Robert Shetterly. The last post Americans Who Tell the Truth in Syracuse included information on the 238 portraits of Rob’s that were on display at Syracuse University.

I followed up with Connie Carter who works with Rob visiting Maine schools who are using the paintings in multiple ways. I was curious how a higher education institute was tapping into this incredible body of work. Fortunately, it was a question that Rob and Connie asked as well and videos have been created on the topic. Raw footage for the most part that are posted on Vimeo can be found at the links below.

Steve and Rob conversing about the Solo Creations course work.

Jim Clark from the theater department at Syracuse University was interviewed and speaks very clearly about the power of the portraits for students in the creative arts and beyond. CLICK HERE to view the interview and use the password AWTTClark.

The second video includes an incredible interview with Steve Cross, professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. He teaches a required course titled: Solo Creations that uses the portraits to explore ideas about creating a solo piece. The video includes performances by a couple of his students so you can see the outcomes of the work with Mr. Shetterly’s paintings. CLICK HERE to view the interview with Steve and his students performances. Use the password AWTTCross. 

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In Today’s News

December 10, 2018

Maine Sunday Telegram

Walt Whitman by Brooksville painter Robert Shetterly

Article about Robert Shetterly and Americans Who Tell the Truth paintings in the Maine Sunday Telegram, December 9. Having followed Rob’s work for quite awhile it is so interesting to read this interview with Rob about his paintings. As I’ve included in recent blog posts about Rob’s work the article includes information and the interview about the exhibit at Syracuse University.

“For the first time, all 238 paintings in Maine artist Robert Shetterly’s “Americans Who Tell the Truth” portrait series are on view together at Syracuse University in New York. Shetterly, who lives in Brooksville, began painting portraits of courageous Americans 17 years ago as an act of defiance against the war in Iraq.” For the entire article written by Bob Keyes,  CLICK HERE.

Walt Whitman was the first portrait he painted. The quote on the painting is the preface to “Leaves of Grass”, a poem of Whitman’s:

“This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone who asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown.”

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Americans Who Tell the Truth in Syracuse

November 30, 2018

Just imagine

At Syracuse University this week all 238 Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits are being displayed. Many of the visual and performing arts faculty are involved in using the portraits as part of their fall curriculum. Several of the living portrait subjects were on hand for part of the week. I can only imagine what a sight this was for all of the visitors. AMAZING! An true testimony to the power of art! THANK YOU to artist Robert Shetterly for his amazing art and his willingness to share it with others. THANKS to Connie Carter, who works with AWTT for taking and sending the photo below which shows only a portion of the exhibit. It’s wonderful that this is taking place along with the two last blog posts on AWTT and the Samantha Smith Challenge.

 

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Caitlin Hunt’s Story

November 29, 2018

Samantha Smith Challenge

Thank you to Caitlin Hunt, Warsaw Middle School teacher, who shares an amazing story about her students participation in the Samantha Smith Challenge. Yesterday’s blog post provides an overview of Americans Who Tell the Truth and the Samantha Smith Challenge and how you can participate this year. This is a powerful statement that Caitlin shared from her experience of bringing art into her classroom: “Perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.” Below is Caitlin’s, and her students, story in her own words…

Artist Robert Shetterly speaking to students

I have been a middle school teacher for 13 years, and I can honestly say that the Samantha Smith Challenge, (SSC) which my students and I participated in last year, provided some of the most important and exciting learning we have ever had in my class. SSC is a program of Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) established by artist Robert Shetterly. Many of the 70 students I taught in my 8th grade social studies class last year were not academically motivated and struggled just to complete assignments. Many of them required considerable support, and had completely lost interest in school. However, I noticed those who had become apathetic were constantly drawing during my class and I realized that art might be a motivator for my students. At that time, I had no idea that bringing the arts into my social studies classes would dramatically improve my students’ knowledge, their confidence, and their ability to empathize with people in situations much different than their own. And perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.

Student created flyer for gallery opening

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Together the students and I studied the United Nations document, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as our anchor text. After they developed an in depth understanding of the 30 basic human rights outlined by the document, they chose the one that was most meaningful to them. Each student was charged with researching current events around the world, to see if the human right which they chose was being denied anyone, or any groups of people around the world. They focused in on this particular event, and learned as much about it as possible. It was interesting to me how much the information they discovered shocked them. Many of them had no idea about the extent of these injustices. After my students showed a full understanding of the injustice, they designed and created works of art, and wrote artist statements, based on their understanding of the denial of this human right.

Art in the Lobby

We titled our project You Be The Judge: Justice Through Art. Our mission statement, the art work, news and images of the students’ work in gallery displays, and our thank-yous can be viewed on the website the students and I created after we finished the project.

AUTHENTIC WORK

The students knew their work would be shown in at least one gallery display. We were fortunate to be able to set up our week long gallery display in an old school house that we named that currently serves as an office building in our town of Pittsfield. We named it Lancy Street Gallery. The students became docents, showing community members around the gallery, and explaining individual pieces to anyone visiting. Their understanding of

Bailey Working

this authentic audience, along with their commitment to the issues they researched, helped them create and participate in quality work throughout the project. We all worked extremely hard to complete pieces, edit artist statements, hang the gallery display, and show the work. What was so different about this project was that the students were no longer struggling with motivation. They saw the importance in what they were doing. They understood that they could teach their fellow community members. Their work reached beyond the local gallery we created with showings at the Universalist Meeting House in Pittsfield, Waterfall Arts  “Young Artists’ Gallery Takeover” exhibition in Belfast, and Art in the Lobby at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

Holocaust and Human Rights Center, Augusta

Along the way, as we were in the thick of the rigorous work it takes to pull off a project like this, it was connections to the real world outside the classroom walls that kept us going. We were able to visit the Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Augusta that, at the time, had an amazing exhibit called America Now… A Dialogue. We also visited the Portland Museum of Art where students participated in case studies to look into other works of art connected to social justice.

VISIT FROM ROBERT SHETTERLY

Universalist Meeting House

As a part of participating in the Samantha Smith Challenge, artist Robert Shetterly visited our school. His talks inspired many students to dive deeper into the current events they found. He challenged them to look at situations from multiple perspectives and he helped make connections between my students and some of the “courageous citizens” he painted. These experts shared their first hand knowledge with my students. It was so powerful for the kids to hear from people who work on the front lines of the issues they had become so passionate about.

DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS

Visit to Portland Museum of Art

Before we started the project I identified the district standard we would be addressing throughout, “researching, selecting, and presenting a position on a current social studies issue by proposing and revising research questions, and locating and selecting information from multiple and varied sources.” I used our district learning targets, to create a rubric for assessment. In order to meet standards, students had to do the following: 1. Summarize and interpret information found in varied sources and from fieldwork, experts, and interviews. 2. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources. 3. Evaluate and verify the credibility of the information found in print and non-print sources. 4. Make individual and collaborative decisions on matters related to social studies using relevant information and research and discussion skills. Of course, along the way we participated in mini-lessons geared towards each part of these learning targets as well.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS LEAD TO PRIDE

Jackson, Docent at Lancy Street Gallery

After completion of the entire project, I sat down one weekend to assess their work using the rubric I had created at the beginning. When I came back to school on Monday, I told the students how fun and exciting it was to assess their work. Authentic, real-world application of their knowledge had earned nearly all them 4s or “exceeds standards” on their work. I told them I felt like Oprah doling out 4s instead of cars, “You get a 4, and you get a 4, and you get a 4!” Although, as I write this, I realize how ironic the term “exceeds standards” is. It was always my expectation that students would apply their new found knowledge in a real world situation; that was the whole point of the project. If we set our expectations high, students will rise to meet them, and then we can all be proud of the work we accomplish. Perhaps one of the most difficult, yet important parts of teaching is finding a way to inspire students to rise to those expectations. The Samantha Smith Challenge helped provide that inspiration for my students.

Part of the exhibit at Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Lancy St. Gallery Pittsfield

Ruby Working

Lancy Street Gallery Pittsfield

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Samantha Smith Challenge

November 28, 2018

Americans Who Tell the Truth

Americans Who Tell the Truth and MAMLE are excited to announce that the registration for the 2018-19 Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is now open! As we launch the fifth year of the Challenge, we are excited to know that middle school students across Maine will be tackling important issues and modeling for all of us what it means to be an engaged citizen.
What is the Samantha Smith Challenge?
The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is an American Who Tell the Truth (AWTT), MAMLE & Thomas College Initiative designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world, teaching students to identify, study, and work to solve the challenges and problems they see around them in their communities. Participants will hear from past SSC participants and learn how to bring the Samantha Smith Challenge to their classrooms and help students use the curriculum to turn global concerns into positive action while connecting to standards.
This year’s focus
We are especially enthusiastic that this year’s SSC will focus on the different aspects of individual and group identities as students learn to become engaged, change-making citizens. We are asking SSC students to think first about their own identity, considering identities that, for the most part, are unchangeable — race, ethnicity, gender, age — and also those identities they can choose –beliefs, clothing styles, groups they join, issues they engage, etc. How do these characteristics affect expectations they have for themselves and expectations others have for them?
Then, as they look around, in their community or across the state, nation, and world, think about these identities and expectations affect others. How does this combination of identify and expectation connect to the justice and equity issues they see?
This year’s celebration
Mark your calendars for this year’s celebration which will be held on Monday, June 3, 2018. Besides having the opportunity to share important work on many social justice issues, there will be a great program that emphasizes how important youth activism is to our world.

As in past years, Robert Shetterly and I will be available to do workshops with your students. It is always a highlight to meet your students and experience their energy for their chosen issues.

REGISTER and LEARN MORE

We look forward to working with you and your students as you engage in the Fifth Samantha Smith Challenge! Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Tomorrow’s blog post is provided by a teacher whose classroom participated in the Samantha Smith Challenge.
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