In 1983, San Juan Unified School District was looking for a part time art resource specialist. Barbara applied, was hired and began developing curriculum to supplement the District’s elementary school classrooms.
“At the time, classroom teachers were mostly relying on pattern work, like craft projects for holidays, with no resources to teach art criticism and art history,” Barbara said. “The head of curriculum said that if I could come up with a program in art that didn’t cost anything, he would implement it. What a challenge!”
A challenge, yes, but one that suited her perfectly. Barbara, a classroom teacher, had co-authored a textbook on early childhood art education with her husband Donald Herberholz, art education professor at California State University Sacramento. She had a passion for art history and loved to teach it to children.
Barbara gradually created 56 lessons with themes such as “People at Play”, “Musicians”, and “Food” while leading training workshops for teachers. The program used large reproductions of famous works of art and contained hands-on art projects based on the theme of the particular lesson. Soon parents were coming to her and wanted to be part of it. They would bring their sewing machines to stitch up the vinyl portfolios to hold the reproductions.
“We got a small grant from the State Department of Education and California Arts Council to purchase the large prints of famous works of art and employ me full time,” Barbara said.
She led trainings for parents so they could present the prints to classes and elicit responses from students. She also taught them how to do the hands-on art lessons that came with each portfolio. By the second year, the Art Docent Program really took off with parents throughout Placer and Nevada Counties, as well as Elk Grove, gathering for work days to put together the portfolios and art supplies.
“We soon had 1,000 Docents in Placer County alone. They celebrated with a Docent Luncheon at the end of every school year,” Barbara said.
Placer County Docents are still going strong today and the Art Docent Program is thriving in more than 200 schools.
“Barbara is an absolute genius in developing, packaging and delivering curriculum in art education that engages students of all ages and makes the world of art accessible to all,” said Chrystal Olson, Ed.D., Associate Professor in Arts in Education, CSU Sacramento. “She believes all children have the right to know of their heritage in art that begins with cave paintings and evolves to include current technology.”
“It’s hard to calculate the number of children and their parents that the program has reached over the last 30 years,” Barbara said. “But it’s a safe bet that the number is somewhere around a million.”
The Art Docent Program provides a sequential, interactive education in art history and artistic skills for elementary school children. It can be taught by teachers or by volunteers called “docents” who are led by a coordinator or “head docent.” The program is available for schools, after-school and summer programs, or any occasion where creative kids can make art. Barbara has revised it over the years based on feedback from the Docents.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Barbara led training for parents every fall at many local school districts. Docents who attended were enthralled by her stories about famous artists and their art and spent full days making art. Barbara’s husband would often accompany her to help carry art supplies, as well as bring his expertise and sense of humor.
In the mid-1990s, when Barbara’s eight grandchildren entered elementary school, they got to experience the Art Docent Program in their classrooms. And Barbara’s daughters, Amy Scherschligt and Heidi Grasty, finally got to become art docents.
“I was so excited to be an art docent in my three children’s classrooms, “Amy said. “It was a great way to get to know my children’s friends and their teachers.”
Heidi agrees. ”Art was so much a part of our family and now we got the chance to share it. I still treasure the portfolios of art that my girls made.”
Once Heidi and Amy’s children “aged out” of elementary school, Barbara began taking them to the docent trainings so they could help and also learn from her. Eventually, she handed all the trainings over to her daughters.
“We always joke that it takes two of us to do what Mom used to do on her own,” Heidi said. “Amy and I work well together. She likes to do the talking and presenting the art work and I like to demonstrate how to use the art supplies.”
The children enjoy the program. “Once they see great works by famous artists in various styles and periods, they can try their own hand, with age-appropriate materials and guidance,” Heidi said.
The Art Docent Program initially used binders of training materials and posters of famous works of art. But the art posters were bulky, came in over 50 portfolio cases, cost a small fortune and over the years they took a beating in the classroom. When Amy and Heidi took over managing the program, they began modernizing it.
“We went to Mom and said we had to have a website, logo and email,” Amy said. “And we made a full-color brochure.”
It wasn’t long before the sisters jumped into social media. Art Docent Program can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. They produce a monthly e-newsletter, as well.
“When we began hearing that docents were interested in using digital images of the famous works of art, we decided it was time to bring this treasured Program into the 21st Century,” Amy said.
Amy and Heidi worked to bring all the images and docent guides online, refining the lessons and adding examples of student artwork. They especially enjoyed adding one of their dad’s sculptures, a three-foot tall owl named Henry George, to the “Birds” lesson.
“Mom’s reaction to seeing all 336 works of art online was that it was like seeing old friends,” said Amy. “And the digital images looked brighter and clearer than the old poster versions.”
Word of the online version spread and soon 15 schools had purchased the new digital version for the 2011-12 school year.
“Some of the schools were new to the program; two in Washington State and one in Utah,“ said Heidi.
“Plus, thanks to word of mouth, an American International School in Kazakhstan purchased our digital program. So we are international!” Amy said.
The digital delivery system allows any classroom with a projector and Internet access to display the artwork, and for Head Docents and Docents to access their own training materials online with any web browser. The access codes are supplied by Amy and Heidi, who want to protect their copyrighted material.
“With all the standardized tests and budget cuts we’ve seen in recent years, it’s great that some schools are tapping volunteers to continue to provide art education,” Heidi said. “Kids really do better in all subjects when their minds are stimulated with fun and engaging creative activities. We talk to adults who had this program as children and it’s among the things they remember most about grade school.”
The sisters are pleased that the Art Docent Program is in alignment with the new Common Core State Standards. Schools that implement it can use the visual arts to meet Language Arts Standards in writing, speaking and listening and language. They say that their program addresses a majority of California’s Visual Art Standards.
“Our time-tested program is still vital and relevant for today’s schools,” Barbara said.
“We grew up making art samples and visiting art museums and book stores with Mom and Dad,” Heidi said. “We never knew we’d be carrying on our family’s Art Docent Program
For more information, go to: www.ArtDocentProgram.com.
ARTS Leadership Colloquium
Please join us at the Sacramento County Office of Education for the Arts Leadership Colloquium on May 14, 2013. This professional learning day will be hosted by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) Statewide Arts Initiative and The California Department of Education. Join us for a day of sharing, breakout sessions, and collaborative discussions. Learn what leaders are doing across the state in support of Arts Learning. Leave with professional development strategies focused on the ARTS and Common Core State Standards.
Registration is free with complimentary lunch. Register early to reserve your space!
To register, click the following link: http://ccsesaarts.k12oms.org/eventdetail.php?gid=403&id=70013
When arts education providers collaborate with other entities to address broad community goals, they multiply the benefits of arts learning and become more sustainable. That is the thesis of the practical new book, More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education, just released by the National Guild for Community Arts Education (New York, NY) and Big Thought (Dallas, TX). Written by two seasoned practitioners—Thomas Wolf and Gigi Antoni—the book is a primer on how organizations that offer arts education and creative learning programs can initiate, enter into, and support long-lasting partnerships. The E-book may be downloaded, free of charge, at www.nationalguild.org. Paperback copies are available for $25 at Amazon.
CA Distinguished Schools Program Reinstitutes Arts Education Category
Each year the California Department of Education acknowledges exemplary schools in its “Distinguished Schools” program. For the 2013 program, Superintendent Tom Torlekson has re-instituted its Arts Education category.
The inclusion of arts education into the Distinguished Schools program is one of the changes championed by the Superintendent to include and encourage robust arts education in California schools. This and many other changes will be included in the Superintendent’s Blueprint for Creative Schools, a policy document currently being drafted based on recommendations from CREATE CA.
For more information, visit the California Department of Education website.
There is now an “AP” for searching Common Core State Standards. Search by subject, grade, keyword, or strand/domain. Share the results by email with a colleague, parent, or friend. Save your favorite standards ands earch results for easy access. Available on the App Store:
Made available by Sacramento County Office of Education
The California Arts Project’s statewide Collaborative Design Institute: Transitioning to the Common Core is a statewide, year-long institute for Visual and Performing Arts and Arts, Media, and Entertainment educators. Institute educators engage throughout the year as professional learning community in discipline-specific cadres. Each cadre designs, field-tests a standards-based arts unit linking content standards (VAPA and/or revised CTE: A, M, E) Common Core Content Literacy standards and the new ELD standards for powerful student learning. Cadres engage in lesson studies to examine and improve student learning. Understanding by Design is the foundation of the unit development. Teachers also engage in creative processes as artists through a Creative Inquiry and become informed of state and national arts and career arts education issues. This is the first block of the year-long TCAP Collaborative Design Institute.
TCAP CDI Block 1
Location: Mission Inn
3649 Mission Inn Ave.
Riverside, CA 92501
July 7, 2013, 03:00 pm – 09:00 pm
July 8, 2013, 08:00 am – 07:00 pm
July 9, 2013, 08:00 am – 07:00 pm
July 10, 2013, 08:00 am – 07:00 pm
July 11, 2013, 08:00 am – 07:00 pm
July 12, 2013, 08:00 am – 09:00 pm
July 13, 2013, 08:00 am – 08:00 pm
July 14, 2013, 08:00 am – 04:00 pm
TCAP CDI Block 2
TCAP CDI Block 2 will be held in two locations, northern/central California and southern California. Specific locations will be announced during Block 1. For more information, go to: http://csmp.ucop.edu/home/display_program_details/603077
The United States Department of Education awarded a grant to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to expand its efforts in arts education and arts integration at the national level. The study of the arts can significantly boos student achievement, reduce discipline problems and increase the odds that students will go on to graduate from college,” said United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncun. To read the press release, go to: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-department-awards-66-million-grant-support-arts-education
|SPOTLIGHT ON TEACHERS|
Meet Sandra Sterrenberg
She teaches visual arts at the Burt Ranch Elementary School in Trinity County and has been there for 33 years. Sandra graduated in 1967 from DePauw University with a B.A. in arts education and have been teaching and learning in the arts ever since. She holds a California Visual Arts Specialist K-12 credential and a K-8 contained-classroom credential. She also serves as an arts education consultant for Trinity County schools. Outside of the classroom she is a potter and watercolorist. Sandra writes:
I am a strong supporter of all the arts disciplines and have often brought dance, drama and music opportunities to the Burnt Ranch students through grants and artist residencies. I passionately believe that art is not a thing or a commodity but a way of seeing and living. To insure that our citizens lead meaningful, enriched lives and that our country survives as a respected and sensitive global leader, we need comprehensive arts educations for everyone.
The most transformative experience of Sandra’s life and teaching, besides mothering two children, was traveling to Japan for 3 weeks as part of a Fulbright cultural exchange teacher program and then sharing my understandings with students and colleagues via many follow-on activities and curriculum.
Sandra writes about her students:
My students are typical American kindergarten through eighth graders with several unique qualities generated by the environment and the demography of the school. Burnt Ranch School is a small community of 100 students. Over 43% of the students are American Indians and 57% qualify for the Free-Reduced Lunch program. There are no ELL students.
The community is very isolated, surrounded by US Forest Service property. There are no stores, only a post office and forest service station. The nearest organized cultural opportunities are an hour‘s drive east…to Weaverville (where most attend high school) or west to Arcata. Some students have never been out of Burnt Ranch and some have never seen the ocean. Many families are poverty level and deal with unemployment, single parenting, and alcohol /drug abuse. Most families do not have access to high-speed Internet (only available through satellite.)
To find out more about Sandra and a project that she taught on balance, click here. View more wonderful artwork her students produced!
By Erik Robelen
Efforts to promote integration of the arts across the curriculum got a boost in North Carolina last month, when Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue signed legislation stipulating that those studying to become elementary teachers get some grounding in the concept.
The measure, contained in a broader education bill, says elementary education programs “shall ensure” that teacher candidates “are prepared to integrate arts education across the curriculum.”
Arts integration is nothing new, but it does seem to be building some momentum lately. For example, I recently wrote an EdWeek story about initiatives to promote adding an “A” for the arts into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) acronym, so that the arts are infused across the disciplines.
AEP designed ArtsEdSearch.org as a digital clearinghouse—a kind of online one-stop shop for research and policy information about the educational outcomes of arts learning, both in and out of school. At ArtsEdSearch.org, high quality research is available in one place, readily accessible, and easily understandable. To date, ArtsEdSearch.org contains 200 summaries of research studies that include all arts forms and all levels of education, and this content will increase each year. AEP invites you to visit and explore ArtsEdSearch.org; there’s nothing else like it in the field!