Art flourishing at Squamish school 

Mamquam Elementary School takes on new program focused on art

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - ARTFUL ARRANGEMENT Teacher Anne Thomson has teamed up with her teaching colleagues in the school and Bowen Island artist Andrea Klann to integrate art into Mamquam Elementary School in a way never seen before at the school.
  • Photo submitted
  • ARTFUL ARRANGEMENT Teacher Anne Thomson has teamed up with her teaching colleagues in the school and Bowen Island artist Andrea Klann to integrate art into Mamquam Elementary School in a way never seen before at the school.

Six lucky schools across B.C. have been chosen to participate in a new program called Infusion: Arts in Education and Mamquam Elementary School is one of them.

The program will see an artist make regular visits to the school and work with the teachers and students to infuse art into learning through a three-year period.

Terri Anne Wilson, the Arts Integration Manager with ArtStarts in Schools, said Mamquam Elementary and the other five schools involved in the program delivered by Wilson’s non-profit organization were given some basic parameters then set free to create the specifics for their own programs. She said a big part of the early program days is to create a collaborative planning model.

Artist Andrea Klann has been matched with Mamquam Elementary. She said she has been to a series of planning meetings at the school and from those meetings she is really excited about the what’s expected for next school year. She plans to spend about a day a month at the school in the first half of the next school year then ramp up her visits in April and May.

Klann said during a telephone interview from her home on Bowen Island that she’s been using Infusion techniques with students for many years.

“It appeals to any learner’s style of learning, so whether they’re kinesthetic, whether they’re visual, whether they’re aural, however they learn this method tends to engage them,” said Klann. “Studies prove that they tend to retain the information and also it expands the critical thinking skills.

“The kids love it because not only is it interesting and different but it's fun and it’s a very different style of learning,” Klann said.

Teacher Anne Thompson is very excited about the new program for her school and she hopes it will lead teachers to make creativity an integral part of learning.

“Our big-picture hope is that the teachers will naturally reach out and make connections to the arts in every aspect of their teaching and planning,” said Thompson.

According to Thompson, infusing art into learning creates student excitement in the learning process.

In a video created to announce the launch of Infusion: Arts in Education, Mamquam Elementary principal Rose McKenzie endorsed ArtStarts and praised the program philosophy.

“I think children learn in different ways and I think that one of the most significant ways that children learn is through the arts, that’s how they express themselves,” she said.

Wilson said she expects a positive learning environment will be established in the six schools participating in the Infusion program.

“There’s going to be an establishment of a really positive learning environment where students feel like they can take risks and where they can really explore possibilities and where we can really start to see a cooperative learning community created and nurtured,” said Wilson.

“This is a living process…it moves and it breathes and it responds to the needs of the teams as they plan and develop what it is they hope to achieve,” Wilson added.

The Infusion project got its start through Legacies Now as a legacy of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

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