When I first started working for CAPE as a teaching artist, I was one of the few visual artists that was partnered with an art teacher. Most teaching artists partnerships are between an academic teacher and an artist. In that scenario the teacher is the “expert” in their subject (let’s say math) and the teaching artist is the “expert” in their discipline (let’s say screen-printing). That team is challenged to bring math and screen-printing together in a way that gives equal weight to the academic subject as well as the art making process.
What makes partnering an art teacher with a visual artist unique is bringing two people that are “experts” in the same discipline and seeing how they negotiate their collaboration. Ms. Kauss (my art teacher partner) and I both identify as artist but come from very different backgrounds, bringing our own interests, ways of working, and skill sets to the classroom.
The CAPE program that I oversee, the Portfolio Design Project, was designed to partner visual artists with art teachers and musicians with music teachers. Teams do also partner with 4-6th grade language arts teachers, but the primary partnership is between the arts specialists. Pictured below is Tracy Netter, art teacher at New Sullivan Elementary and veteran CAPE teaching artist, Juan-Carlos Perez. Tracy and Juan-Carlos are now in their 3rd year of their collaboration. ****
A good friend recently invited my kids and I to the Chopin Theater to see Rose and the Rime. Although I did want to go and always enjoy small theater productions (the good and the bad!), this was late on a school night and I kept putting off looking into the production and giving her a firm answer that we would go to see it. Finally we said yes and I’m so glad we went! First of all, there is not a bad seat in the Chopin Theater- because we were early we had front row seats. My kids, 6 and 8 years old, were fascinated by the entire production. It was very magical-the actors even interacted with my kids throughout the play.
Reviews that I had previously read compared the story line and production to Disney’s Frozen. That did go a long way with my kids in getting them excited about going, but the 2 stories are very different. After the performance they could not stop talking about it. They kept comparing and contrasting Rose and the Rime to Frozen, meticulously picking out all of the similarities and differences while retelling the stories. Both agreed that it was the best play they’d ever seen and were asking if we can arrange for their classes to take a field trip so their friends could see the show too. I asked my daughter if it was even better than Wicked. She said, “Well… yes, but they’re both my favorite!”
After 4th grade teacher, Ms. Bennett, collaborated with teaching artist, Ellen Tristchler, she jumped into her own arts integrated unit with social studies and visual art!