Classrooms fill with art

May 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Students at Pine Grove School make paper as part of the arts in education program that brings everything from painting to drumming into Del Norte County classrooms. (The Daily Triplicate /Stephen Merrill Corley).
Students at Pine Grove School make paper as part of the arts in education program that brings everything from painting to drumming into Del Norte County classrooms. (The Daily Triplicate /Stephen Merrill Corley).

By Julie B. Burns

For the Triplicate

It was loud, energetic and fun, said Dana Howard of percussion artist, Sam Mombo Hernandezs demonstration in her classroom at Crescent Elk Middle School.

Mombos demonstration was one of the Arts in Education program organized through Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness (DNACA) and the Del Norte County Unified School District.

This spring, the Arts in Education program is sponsoring many other regional artists work in 128 classrooms around the county. Over 2,768 public elementary and middle school students will have the opportunity to build birdhouses, structure poems, listen to contemporary guitar music or stories from the Yurok culture.

Since its inception as a pilot program in 1983, the Arts in Education program has grown significantly. This year 196 workshops, performances and demonstrations will be given, nearly 50 percent more than last year. This remarkable increase is due to the grant funds of the Exemplary Arts Education program through the California Arts Council and Arts Work, a Visual and Performing Arts Education grant program through the California Department of Education. The increased funding has also allowed for a considerable increase in the artists salaries, raising it closer to that of a professional level.

A large portion of the programs existence depends upon the support of the local school district. Such vital support comes by way of the teachers enthusiasm for the Arts in Education program. The teachers know too well the need for their students exposure to the arts.

Each year I look forward to the Arts in Education program, said Sean Smith, a participating social studies teacher at Crescent Elk Middle School. Mombos African percussion demonstration fits right into seventh grade curriculum. Along with showing slides of the cultures and environment, I play the guitar and sing some traditional songs with my students. But when Mombo comes, they all can play and get up and dance. This is what makes the Arts in Education program such an important addition to our study. Smiths students are also impressed with their lesson. Holden Price said, Mombos performance was great, a lot better than reading from a history book. Thanks to him, I kind of know how to play the drums.

But future drummers are not the only by-product of the Arts in Education program. Sam Mombo Hernandezs Percussion Demonstration is only one of 28 workshop variations available. Of the perennial favorites have been workshops by Dorothy Ishoy. Her two media, Watercolors and Pencil Drawing are always in great demand. Strict limits have been placed on the number of classes she is assigned to work in so that Ishoy can enjoy her retirement.

As an artist and retired teacher of the Del Norte County Unified School District, Ishoy has a unique perspective on her role in the classroom. Teachers are overstressed. There is too much paperwork to have time for creative projects. I know, Ive felt it, witnessed Ishoy of the present condition of most public school teachers.

Many district teachers fully understand the vital role that art can play in the successful education of each student and the development of each as an individual. Ishoys sentiments reflect these feelings when she says, Art is part of a whole it shouldnt be separate from the academics. It is something students can do to express themselves and feel pride in their creative abilities.

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Ishoys workshop philosophy is to do what she can to make each child successful. Learning how to handle the materials is probably the best thing I teach, explained Ishoy. If the students are able to use the materials, they can branch off and do other things. Since most workshops are not extensive training in the arts media, this is the goal of each Arts in Education artist: to inspire creativity outside of the brief workshop encounter.

If you see a student who performs a clown show at the dinner table, or gently carries home a fresh pastel drawing, youll know that the artists of the Arts in Education Program have visited. Blues-playing, drum-beating, storytelling, basketmaking, wool weaving, dancing and bearing bowls of fruit: theyre coming to a school near you.

Who they are and what

they do

Providing the diverse list of media available through the Arts in Education program are 18 artists from Del Norte, Curry, and Humboldt counties: pine needle basketry with Laurie Calef; paper collage and poetry writing with B.J. Clausen; papermaking with Lynn Susan Daly; acrylic painting, crinkled paper acrylics, papier mache flowers, charcoal drawing, and pastel portraits with Patti Engelmann; still life in pastels with Carla Fullwood; pencil drawing and watercolors with Dorothy Ishoy; woodworking with Paul Langston; dance with Kendall Pickenpaugh; papier mache with Johnny Rader; clowning and physical comedy with Sunni Sydenham; chamber readings with Hope Cherie Carrillo; percussion demonstrations with Sam Mombo Hernandez; fiddle guitar duo performances with Dale Morgan and Amy Keusink; contemporary guitar and American folk music with Dale Morgan; dramatic storytelling performances with Navvab Munirih; Native American drum, flute and storytelling with Michael Penney; spinning and weaving demonstrations with Jill Scholton; and Yurok stories with Kim Yost.