Helping Students See What Is Important

27 04 2013

After all the glam of the runway, I am back at work and focused on Haiti.  Yes- I am still an art teacher and I am working hard at teaching all the varied skills my student need to learn for creating an etching in Printmaking, using the Text tool in Media Art to create a Band Cover, finishing up AP Art Portfolio’s, and so much more… but  I am drawn back to my thoughts of the children in Haiti.  I have been raising money for Haiti for four years now and specifically focused on one special orphanage called BeLikeBrit.org.  I follow the Facebook updates and read the blogs posted by the director of the orphanage.  I get to see photos of the children getting good meals, nice clothing, playing, going to school, and watching “A Bug’s Life” on a projected wall.  24 little children watching a movie is not too amazing in America, but if you know the stories about these children and how this all came to be, you would be filled with pride and tears would well in your eyes.  

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My art students have been on this journey with me for four years, helping me create art pins for our community service project Homes for Haiti.  It has grown and is still raising funds to help build Haiti Back Better with the Bill Clinton’s Haiti Relief Fund.  I decided to have my students get a more personal feel about the conditions of the children in Haiti, so I linked them to the orphanage.

 We had a Cultural Festival yesterday and I set up a table about Haiti.  I was lucky to have some photo frames donated to help me raise money for the orphanage, the frames were made and painted by Haitian Artists.  I also requested that my students select an orphan and to paint a portrait of them to send to them in Haiti. I wanted a few portraits to have on display for the Cultural Festival to bring awareness to our project too. 

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My heart was warmed by students enthusiastically selecting one child at a time.  We began our portraits this week.  Word got out about our portrait paintings and soon other students not enrolled in my art classes asked if they could paint a portrait?  I said yes.  Some needed more support to get facial features correct or skin tone to look just right, but the students are doing a great job.  I have a few more children to paint to make sure every child will receive a painted portrait, but I know some students will double up.   

The discussions at the art tables are so wonderful.  The students are following the orphanages FB page and sharing news about the children.  The big news this week was the new school bus.  My students love the new photos of the children playing, attending school, painting pictures, and watching movies.  We talk about the children in Haiti as if we know them.  We daydream about their personalities and dream of one day going to Haiti and volunteering at the orphanage.

We raised some money from selling our painted photo frames and as soon as all the portraits are complete we will send them to Haiti with our love and hope for a bright future. My students are understanding the value of the simple but so important things about a child’s life in Haiti.  They are learning to enjoy the smiles and bright big brown eyes that we see on our computer screens.  

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I am so proud of my students.  I am hopeful that our work will help the children in Haiti become strong, educated, wonderful Haitian leaders.

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