Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wilkinsburg Art Teacher Gets Creative to Deal with School Supply Shortage

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wilkinsburg Art Teacher Gets Creative to Deal with School Supply Shortage

Article excerpt

When her students at Wilkinsburg High School needed supplies for a Christmas-themed ornament-making project, art teacher Nancy Rowley went to a local discount store after school and bought salt, dough, corn starch, cinnamon and most of the other needed supplies in bulk with her own money.

The assignment -- in which students learned the properties of different types of homemade clay while making ornaments for their Christmas trees -- was one of the students' "favorite projects of the year," Ms. Rowley said.

Her creativity may have helped her become one of the teachers selected to receive a fellowship to participate in a weeklong teachers institute with the National Gallery of Art this summer in Washington, D.C., she said.

The seminar will focus on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements and methods to incorporate visual art and art history into everyday lessons. The experience comes at an important transitional period for her and the district.

This summer, the middle- and high-school staffs will be merged and the secondary curriculum for core and elective classes completely rewritten to include a wider selection of courses for students, including honors and eventually Advanced Placement courses.

Under the 2013-14 curriculum, secondary students could take only one level of art, so Ms. Rowley's lessons covered mostly foundational topics such as color theory, three-dimensional shapes, portraiture, tessellations and some art history.

"No matter the class and medium you're using, you need to tie the lesson into historical and cultural lessons," Ms. Rowley said. "It helps make it real and fun for the students."

She called the seminar a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" and hopes to bring back some ideas to revamp her curriculum for next school year.

Technical advancement was limited for her art students this year, in part because of minimal supplies and the standard curriculum, Ms. …

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