Two Suntree teachers boost appreciation of art through unique project


Photo by Jill Blue-GainesDon’t be surprised in the future if some students from Suntree Elementary School, who just finished fifth grade, visit the Louvre or some of the other great museums around the world.

While teachers around the United States lament the fact that art programs often don’t survive the annual budget cut, two teachers from Suntree Elementary have found a way to introduce the arts to their unsuspecting young students.

Pam Bruce and Christy Fleig have used their Masterpiece Museum of Art to introduce their students to the art work of Dali, Michaelangelo, da Vinci, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Seurat and Picasso. The program has successfully met the requirements of the Standard Base Literacy Project.

Students were assigned an artist, who somewhat resembled their personality.

“The children then serve as museum docents,’’ said Bruce, who has taught at the school for the past 20 years and created the Masterpiece Museum of Art project 17 years ago. “They really work on their reading, writing, listening and speaking. Several of the students just absolutely loved the project.’’

As a docent, the students were required to learn all they could about their artist. After the research, they shared their knowledge through their oral reports. Besides the standard biographical information, the docents also described the techniques of the artists and their styles of painting.

“They not only became experts on their artists, but they learned about all the other artists through the class experience,’’ Bruce said. “We had one student from Ireland who picked Paul Henry, an artist from Ireland.’’

Bruce praises her teamwork with Fleig, who has taught at the school for the past 11 years, for improving the project each
school year.

“I feel like this has been spearheaded by a book I read years ago,’’ Bruce said. “It talked about how the children don’t have a background in art. This was a good opportunity to bring art into the discussions in the classroom. I’m definitely not an expert.
I have learned a lot from the students.’’ 

For a photo gallery of this event, click here.

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