Hi, I’m Nicole Bowers and I’m this summer’s marketing intern at Saugatuck Center for the Arts. I’m a soon-to-be senior at Central Michigan University where I study integrative public relations and journalism. Follow me as I take a peek into the classrooms of our Growing Young Artists program this summer. I’m so happy to see what this year brings!
Growing Young Artists creates a lasting impact on students, teachers and the community as a whole. While empty glue bottles, extra sequins and scraps of paper are all that remain, the skills learned will last for many years to come. This summer, the Growing Young Artist classroom was made up of more than 80 children, 12 instructors, and working professional artist Mandy Cano Villa Lobos. Through four weeks of hands-on, creative, academic programming students gained the confidence to succeed.

TEACHERS

Educators from many backgrounds came together to learn and grow. Professional teachers, student teachers, high school interns, art instructors and Fennville Public Schools staff, all worked with students as instructors this summer.

“You will grow more than you ever thought possible and see your strengths and weaknesses shine while you work alongside some incredible people.” – Avery Burke, second year GYA instructor, West Ottawa 1st grade ELA 

More than 100 hours of brainstorming, lesson planning and preparing went into creating this year’s GYA theme, Tú Eres Familia. Through the curriculum, writing prompts and art-making, students explored the meaning of family. The days spent curating the program led to an amazing time of growth for students and teachers alike.

 “The time I spent with the students was rewarding and special. It went by so fast but I felt like the relationships built were life changing. The experience has given me more confidence as a solo instructor and as a team player.”- Sam Lee GYA instructor

Mandy Cano Villa Lobos, the 2019 artist in residence, was an amazing addition to the team. Bringing in a professional working artist the students can relate to on a deeper level, allows them to visualize a future for themselves, with endless possibilities for success.

“I loved seeing her come each day to GYA with new ideas and an enthusiasm for making and creating. She was able to instill her enthusiasm and love for art in students around her, and it was clear that many students looked up to her, as a role model.” – Emily Lindbloom GYA instructor

The instructors created positive change in the community by mentoring students throughout the summer. Smaller class sizes allowed them to connect with each student in a meaningful way.

 

“The relationship that your staff builds with our students will last a lifetime. As a teacher I cherish the GYA program.” – Mrs. Onken Fennville Public Schools teacher

COMMUNITY

In the past 8 years, GYA has involved more than 900 students, upwards of 50 instructors and 8 artists. Traditionally each summer ends with a community celebration honoring the artwork created in the program. Students who are rarely praised, often in trouble or grade levels behind are positively recognized for their achievements. This year’s fiesta placed the student’s art on display in the center of downtown Fennvile, where students had the opportunity to speak about their work and what family means to them. In their own words, students defined family as more than blood, who they are surrounded by, who they share with and who they care about. GYA serves as a bridge for schools, students and the greater community.

STUDENTS
The Growing Young Artist classroom gives children freedom to make mistakes, cultivates empathy, encourages them in their individual journeys and empowers them for the future.

“They gained advocates who love seeing them grow and who will challenge them not only in the basic subjects of school but in adding meaning to everything they do.”

– Avery Burke GYA instructor

One student, Maria, had never painted before coming to GYA. Her teacher, Rachael Miller, noticed she was only painting in blue, yellow, and red, while the other students where mixing many new shades. “I sat by her and showed her how to mix orange and purple and her eyes got so wide. It blew her mind. Being able to work one on one with her was amazing.” 

The program builds core skills in literacy, language fluency, math and science. Most importantly, it strengthens social and emotional skills like problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, self-direction, and responsibility. Students are free to explore and express themselves in the way they choose allowing them the feeling of ownership, freedom, and creativity without the added pressure of grades.

“Your program lets me see a side of the kids that I do not get to see during a regular school setting. It allows them to open up and show their true selves, it allows them to do and see things they may not have the opportunity to do.” – Mrs. Torres Fennville Public Schools

As this year’s class of GYA comes to a close, time spent in the classroom will have a lasting impact on all those involved.

“From providing snack to taking us to the play that was the most fun I have ever had…I hope to experience this again next year.” – Daisy Castillo GYA student

X