OSD unveils Elementary Art Pilot Program

  • Decrease Text Size
  • Increase Text Size
OSD unveils Elementary Art Pilot Program
OSD Elementary Art PilotLindsey Johnstone’s art class at Hansen Elementary School has been hard at work creating a collaborative art piece she has titled, “Feather Mural.” All students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, will contribute a feather to this mural to create two large wings that will become wall art for the school. Johnstone’s art class is part of the Elementary Art Pilot Program, a program currently in its first year at the Olympia School District. There are three teachers in district who are teaching art at their schools: Lindsey Johnstone at Hansen Elementary, Julia Bloom at LP Brown Elementary and Mike White at Garfield Elementary. “Our board members had an interest in expanding art programs in our elementary schools,” says Executive Director of K-12 Teaching and Learning Lauri Klancke. With this piloting program, each student at the three schools receives an art class once a week.

Johnstone enjoys the freedom of this program to come up with the projects she wants to implement in the classrooms. Her focus is on collaboration. “The projects express the individuality of the student as well as the school as a whole,” Johnstone says. Her first project of the year focused on painting dots, inspired by Peter Reynolds book “The Dot.” Her second project was a large mural that currently fills up a large wall space in her classroom. The focus of the project was learning about the role of symmetry in art. “The program is currently focusing on the elements of art, such as line, texture and form,” says Assistant Director of K-12 Teaching and Learning, Anne Gallagher.

Student enjoying art enrichment“Mike White has had his students working with clay. He’s also been building this foundation with the students around color and understanding the mixing of colors,” Gallagher says. “He’s started out with guided watercolor in low light settings; a castle scene with moonlight, or a cabin with a sunrise. He’s been guiding them through these pieces. Then, students will be able to take what they’ve learned and create their own watercolor piece. Mike is very intentional about building the skills and the students’ understanding of art concepts.”

For Indigenous Peoples Day, White’s class spent the week diving into the history and culture of the native people. One of the stories White told the class was the tale of Salmon Boy. White says: “The students were enthralled by the Native flute drifting through this timeless story. Our students then learned to use Salish design elements to decorate their salmon pictures.” One student said of this project: “It was fun to honor their special stories and create designs of their culture.”

In Bloom’s classroom, students are learning about the color wheel and art from different cultures around the world. Currently, the class is learning about Japanese art. “They’re going to create a self-portrait and use a vocabulary word to describe themselves, such as ‘smart.’ And they’ll learn how to write the symbol in Japanese,” says Bloom.

Wall art in the classroomAs with many creative pursuits, the direction of the class changed as Bloom learned more about her class. Bloom started with a Día de Muertos theme this October. She saw how excited the kids were learning about Mexico; especially the students with Mexican family members. “I thought it would be so fun to honor different cultures of the kids. This program exposes all students to art and they are learning about other cultures, outside of their own,” says Bloom.

Gallagher says: “There are students who have tough things going on in their lives. We have found that students who have had a hard time in the regular classrooms come to art and they are focused and very engaged. Art has become this expression of themselves. It’s been really amazing.”