Bulb Archived: George Washington Parent Class SCALE 2016-2017: Perez, Giron, Tritschler & Mueller

Administrators: Palmira Perez, Attendance Coordinator and Estela Giron, parent worker

Artists: Ellen Tritschler and Jessica Mueller

School: George Washington High School

Big Idea: Involvement

Inquiry Question: What are ways in which we can expand upon the involvement of parents in the planning of our projects for the year?

Fall/Winter

Art Content: GardeningPainting and Papel picado

Non-Art Content: This group is known as the George Washington High (GWHS) School Parent Program. Members of this program are parents of a GWHS student or are community members.  We chose involvement as our big idea because last year we witnessed parents in this group utilize our art sessions as time to come together not only to learn about and create new art works, but also to talk about issues going on at the school and in the community. The parents’ talks led to action and many of the parents became more involved in GWHS’s Local School Council (LSC). Not only did they begin to attend meetings, several parents from our group ran for parent position seats on LSC during the spring elections.

For this year, we want the parents to become more involved in the planning of the art projects.

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

The Project Process: During the month of October, as the parent group started up again, we welcomed new GWHS parents and several new community members to our class. We noticed that many new attendees had heard about the group from current members. The group spent the first two sessions having everyone introduce themselves, and we casually conversed with parents about what they were interested in working on this year. In particular, we talked about the new space that we are now permanently occupying for our classes-  the Faculty Lunchroom and adjacent courtyard. Our conversations focused on how the group could develop, beautify and create a studio/gallery within the courtyard. Through these conversations, parents were actively involved in determining the direction and ideas surrounding this projects and shaped the first project. (see the photo above of the parents first discussion)

image-
Parents and community members of the George Washington High School Parent Program discussing and planning ideas at the first session 10/04/16.

Parents focused on cleaning up the courtyard space for their first project. They cleared the weeds and garbage from the space using rakes, garden gloves and pruning tools that they brought to the school.  As they cleared and cleaned the space, they talked about what could be added to create a more usable and inviting space not only for the group to use but also for the faculty and staff. Some suggested ideas were planters, plants and mosaic stepping stones.

image-
The courtyard before the parents and community members cleaned it up. 10/04/16
image-
     Parents cleaning up the courtyard.
image-

These conversations are part of our learning goals, which include having group members become more involved in the planning of the projects as well as teaching them new art forms. With the input of the parents, we developed new projects based around these objectives, unless there was an overwhelming request from them to create work using a media previously used in past classes. Roxanne, a new parent to the group not only suggested an idea for a new project, but also brought in materials for the project. Her idea was to paint logs for the courtyard but also for the members to take home. The logs came from the work her husband does, and she saw an opportunity for us to use them as a way to recycle them. She was able to bring in logs for all the members. The group was very excited to work on this project because for some members it was chance to apply the painting skills that they learned last year and for others it was a chance to learn new skills. At the same time, this new work was challenging because instead of a flat canvas as they had previously, they were navigating the three dimensional aspects of the log.

image-
Roxana brings in the logs in the logs for the members to paint for our project.
image-
Parents painting a base coat on the logs
image-
Community member painting.

As the painting project progressed, members finished at different times. This primarily happened because members can not always attend every session and there may be large gaps in their attendance.  In the meantime, those parents who had completed began two new projects that they had Requested during the first session- planting bulbs and creating papel picado.

The parents contributed some of the bulbs while Ellen purchased the soil and additional bulbs. Together, parents planted them in the planters that had been empty in the courtyard. Also, the parents learned how to fold and cut tissue paper to create the traditional Mexican folk art, papel picado. Once completed, the parents attached them to twine and strung them across the four columns our lunchroom space.

image-
Cutting designs into  the tissue paper
image-
Yesica adhering the papel picado to the twine.
image-
Natalia and Roxana hanging the strings of papel picado in the lunchroom.

Do you think that parents made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

We think that about 85% of parents made progress toward the learning goals because most of the parents learned new art forms and have been involved in the planning of the projects. Some parents don’t attend on a regular basis we don’t find them to be as involved in the planning.

How did your administrator/artist collaboration work this semester? Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

For the past two years, the four of us have been working together so we have developed a very good rapport. For our collaboration, Palmira and Estela communicate with the parents on a weekly basis through phone calls, texts or emails as a way of reminding parents about the class and if they need to bring anything to the sessions. This is extremely important in strengthening the communications between parents and school. During the sessions in which Jessica and Ellen primarily map out and teach the projects, Palmira and Estela are there to help with the projects and they are there to answer questions relating to the school.

As collaborators, we haven’t had any conflicts in terms of our approaches. We tend to talk about our ideas and we make suggestions.

Winter/Spring

Art Content: Mosaics: For most of the winter and springthe art content in our class centered around two separate mosaic projects each having the intended purpose to both beautify and revitalize spaces within the school.

Non-Art Content: Involvement of the CAPE parents creating greater visibility of their work within the larger community, the schoolThe intention was to have the parents become more active with the planning of the community space, the faculty lunchroom and courtyard and at the end of the school year, they would invite GWHS teachers and the administrative staff to view their work and the space. 

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

Class Learning Goals: For our parent group, we again centered our learning goals around primarily around conversations which allowed us to share ideas on how to develop and beautify the spaces where we were working and to share it with the GWHS community. Through these conversations, we developed a plan to create mosaic tiled stepping stones. The parents would not only learning how to cut ceramic tiles and design with mosaics, but they would also create the stone from cement or mortar rather than being supplied with a pre-made stone. Upon our return to the class after winter break, parents began researching and drawing their own designs. However, prior to this, the parents had begun different mosaic project.

Before our winter break, our parents were invited to partake in another CAPE project at the school. GWHS students were working with art teacher, Mary Rossi and mosaic artist, Mirtes Zwierzynski and together they were designing a mosaic project for four of the columns at the school’s main entrance. The parents were asked to contribute to the lower portion or base of the column. Mirtes came to our class to introduce the project and to show the range of Venetian class tiles that were available for the project.

The parents came up with individual designs, but upon talking with Mirtes, we discovered that we needed just 3 designs. Palmira made the suggestion that we could try to combine the designs to streamline the process. Upon further discussions with our parents, we narrowed down the designs to three symbols which represent the transportation, commerce and industry in the neighborhoods from which GWHS students, parents and community members hail.

Mirtes came back for one class in January at which the parents used a grid system to begin placing the tiles into their designs. After this session, some of our parents signed up to come to the school on Mondays to continue the work on the layout of the three mosaic symbols.

The three symbols include railroad tracks, a tugboat and a bridge all of which are very recognizable and widely used structures that help identify part of community.

image-
Railroad tracks sketch
image-
. Tugboat sketch by John.
image-
Bridge sketch by Roxi.
image-
Parents begin the mosaic design of the tugboat with Mirtes.
image-
Parents the railroad design.
image-
The mosaic design grid completed.

For the remainder of the winter and into the spring, the parents continued working on stepping stones. It was also during this time that several new and returning members joined the class. Because of the influx of people, the project was also extended. Because of the influx of people, the project was also extended. Our final project, in which the parents designed and screen-printed new 2017 CAPE GWHS Parent Project t-shirts, had to overlap the mosaic project which luckily worked out week, however we have learned that in the future we need to have a more visible calendar with deadlines as we begin the planning process with the parents at the beginning of our year.

image-
Mixing mortar to create a stepping stone.
image-
.Pouring the mortar into a mold to set
image-
.Breaking ceramic plates to become mosaic pieces
image-
Designing the stepping stones.
image-
image-
image-
image-

Do you think that parents made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

Our non-art goals was to have the parents become involved in having the larger GWHS community view the process of how they are revitalizing the faculty lunchroom space and to see the art work that they have been creating for the past three years. So many of the faculty and staff do not know the program exists and parents want to share with them what they have been learning.  The parents hosted a sharing event in May and invited the faculty to the space for lunch and to view the courtyard to see their plantings and work. Faculty were also encouraged to partake in adding mosaic pieces to four stepping stones each with a letter representing the school.

The sharing event was very encouraging as several teachers conversed with the parents about ideas for the space or mentioned that they would look for items to add to the courtyard. Many teachers commented that they either were unaware of the space or they didn’t use the space because they worked on the other side of the building so it wasn’t conducive for them to use the space. However, after seeing the space, many remarked that they would utilize the courtyard in the future because it was a quiet area.  

We also think that 100% of the parents who were involved at the start of the project made progress in both their participation, involvement and learning the process of creating the entire mosaic stones. The reason is that we saw the parents eventually take over in assisting other parents in the making of the stones from cement, cutting tiles, and grouting. Parents shared their knowledge and supported the new parents who joined midway through the project.

image-
image-
image-

How did your administrator/artist collaboration work this semester? Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

Our class is ongoing and not bound to an academic schedule, so the semester schedules don’t configure into our planning and teaching. Palmira and Estela constantly communicate information about the class with the parents and community members via text, emails, phone calls and in person. Jessica and Ellen continue to demonstrate and teach the processes of each project with Ellen taking the lead because she is there for both sessions during the week.

One example that we sited already but is worth mentioning again is the compromise that took place on the mosaic design for the columns with Mirtes. We thought that there would be room for each parent’s design on the column. When we were told that it would be too difficult to include almost 20 designs, we were stuck on how to combine everyone’s drawing. Palmira gave a suggestion which changed the focus of the images, yet her idea was one everyone was on board with because it made sense for the project. The idea began with a discussion amongst the group members and that’s how we decided upon the symbols from the area.

Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?

In terms of teaching together, Jessica and Ellen are the ones who lead the demonstrations and work through the process with the parents. However, Estela and Palmira are right there in the process because they need to translate our directions or information into Spanish for those parents who do not speak English. Also, they translate any questions from the parents. At the same time, Estela and Palmira offer assistance with all of the projects. During a typical class, all four of us are in some way working or conversing with the parents and we are all creating this communicating through our work.