Making a Difference:
KET Arts Programs
Without the resources, without Art to Heart and the toolkits as a guide, I don’t think the teaching would have gone as smoothly because they actually got to see people interacting with these children. It was wonderful.
Pendleton County teacher
What happens when you put a bunch of creative high schoolers in a room, eager to find a way to share their love of the arts? When the students in question are members of Pendleton County High School’s “A-Team,” the result is Art Start, a monthly workshop for preschool and primary children which introduces them—and their parents—to the joys and benefits of creativity.
The A-team, led by art teacher and Pendleton County Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher Michelle Lustenberg, was looking for a new project, one of many the A-Team completes each school year, and settled on crafting a series of workshops that would fan the flames of creativity in their community’s youngsters.
“We were talking about the idea of doing something for young people,” said Lustenberg, whose “home base” is a rambling old building that the Pendleton County Schools now use as a multi-purpose center.
“And then we saw the brochure for Art to Heart. I was cleaning out the studio, and here was this handout, a flier, and we thought, ‘Wow, what’s this like? Can we use this?’ And then we started to develop the idea.”
The idea—both of Pendleton County’s Art Start and the KET series Art to Heart—stems from the belief that music, dance, drama, literature, and the visual arts are essential components of early childhood education. Through eight half-hour programs hosted by actress Ana Ortiz, the series provides parents and preschool and elementary educators with the foundation for using the arts in human development, ideas for arts activities, and the inspiration to make play and creativity a part of every day. A teacher’s guide and accompanying web site provide additional resources.
But in a true testament to the creativity of the A-Team, Art to Heart and KET’s Arts Toolkits have transcended their original audience and have become a resource that their developers never imagined.
“We had Art to Heart training; the principal allowed us a day out of school,” said 16-year-old sophomore Elizabeth Crotty, who noted that A-Team members canvassed their friends and schoolmates, recruiting students with a particular love for and talent in various disciplines. Then they all watched the entire Art to Heart series, becoming versed in the ideas promoted by the series—that exposure to the arts can directly affect lifelong capabilities in learning and that the arts are an integral component of human society.
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“We watched it section-by-section, and I talked about what the research showed,” said Lustenberg. “And really, without the resources, without Art to Heart and the toolkits as a guide, I don’t think the teaching would have gone as smoothly because they actually got to see people interacting with these children. It was wonderful.”
Out of that day of learning, the students developed four specific workshops in the visual arts, dance, music, and drama. They wrote and designed a brochure, which included a graphic logo designed by A-Team member Alex Carson, and set about spreading the word throughout Falmouth about their new project. They set up booths at elementary schools and ran ads in the newspaper. They secured funding for materials and promotion from the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Art Educators Association. They planned out their workshops, minute-by-minute, frequently using lesson plans from KET’s Arts Toolkits.
“They really helped us interact and showed us how to simplify the information and get it across to them,” said 16-year-old Alex, also a sophomore at PCHS.
And when the workshops began in September—and the little ones stormed into their midst—they learned what it’s like to teach, and they shared what they’d learned with their fellow student-teachers.
“My favorite part was watching the kids make stuff, watching them get messy,” said Elizabeth, who led a workshop on the visual arts, spotlighting the work of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollack. In her workshop, the children covered golf balls in paint, then rolled them across paper, creating abstract works of their own.
“I know when I was younger, I didn’t get something like this,” said Alex. “I didn’t have the opportunity to get involved in the arts. I’m very involved in the arts now. I like giving the opportunity now—I like passing it on.”