Monday, July 9, 2012
A cultural journey
The excitement among the students was unbelievable. All but one had never been to an art museum.
TYLER A stop in the small community of Edom was the starting point of a journey that brought gifted and talented students from Mildred ISD, a small rural school district, to the city of Tyler for an introduction to the world of art.
After picking up a copy of Piney Woods LIVE, I read of an upcoming exhibition at the Tyler Museum of Art. The exhibit, Reflections on Water in American Paintings, was from the collection of Arthur J. Phelan and generously underwritten by several benefactors including Piney Woods LIVE. What a wonderful opportunity this would be for my high school GT students! They could experience an art collection in a museum setting, and what better place than the Tyler Museum of Art.
Prior to scheduling a visit, I felt I should tour the exhibit and become acquainted with the background of the collection. So, I took an opportunity to visit the museum. Afterwards, I spoke with Kim Schaefer, tour coordinator, inquiring about possible group rates.
Ms. Schaefer asked if I was familiar with the anonymous grant made from a local foundation offering financial support for the 2011-2012 School Tour Program. Currently, our Gifted and Talented program, like many others, is operating under tight budget restrictions. Even with group rates, I was not sure the Mildred ISD Gifted and Talented budget would be sufficient to cover the cost of a trip such as this. Ms. Schaefer stated that the grant provided funding for a docent led tour and the cost of round trip bus transportation from our school to the Tyler Museum of Art. The generous grant would make this cultural experience possible for our students.
Soon after completing the application for the grant and submitting it, I was notified that our Mildred ISD Gifted and Talented program had been selected for the funding. My students would attend the exhibition in spite of budget cuts. How fortunate we were!
I felt Jr. High and Sr. High students would benefit most from a trip to an art exhibition in a museum setting. So, the trip was scheduled and plans were made. The excitement among the students was unbelievable. All but one had never been to an art museum. Time was spent prior to our visit helping students learn proper museum manners, how to look at a piece of art with appreciation, and how to recognize that some pieces would evoke more feelings within themselves than others.
The day of our visit, we were met at the door by Felicity Enas, an enthusiastic lady with a wonderful British accent. As Ms. Enas talked with the students, they listened, observed, discussed ideas, and compared interpretations with each other. Time was also allowed for students to return to pieces that might have piqued their interest during the tour. Ms. Enas also encouraged students to sketch from any of the works that might have inspired them, and many chose to do so.
What a wonderful day for the students! They came home with the spark of a new interest and talk of when we might go to the next exhibition. As the day came to an end, I reflected on the chain of events that had led to our journey. From a publication called Piney Woods LIVE to the Tyler Museum of Art and a link to a generous grant benefactor, students from Mildred ISD Gifted and Talented program had been the recipients of a wonderful educational opportunity.
Thanks to all who made this trip possible!