The Allentown Village Association is helping to support an education program at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says this program provides learning at the Burchfield for students from Buffalo Public School #33 the Bilingual Center.
“I think it’s cool. It’s unique and it has all kinds of different art that I haven’t seen before I came here,” said Samar Walter, fifth grader at the Bilingual school.
Walter was among a group of students who recently visited Burchfield for a special arts education program. Walter said she enjoys drawing and using her imagination.
“It tells you whatever you are feeling – like math you have to figure out the area and the volume and that kind of stuff, but in art you can do whatever you want,” remarked Walter.
“What is your favorite?” asked Buckley. “My favorite I would have to say – unique things you haven’t seen in real life,” responded Walter.
The art center and this public school developing a program with teachers and school administrators to blend art into student learning. Mary Kozub is the Education Manager at the Burchfield. When the students visit, they learn about art as well as visual literacy and vocabulary.
“Many of them speak two languages. English may not be their first language and so we use the opportunity to talk about art, think about art, write about art as a way to increase vocabulary skills,” Kozub explained.
The Bilingual school follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy that focuses on community importance, free inquiry with immersion into the arts to support academics. This program also serves from economically challenged backgrounds.
But last year, due to funding difficulties students visits were cut back. However, this year the Allentown Village Association, which raises funds from the annual Allentown Arts Festival, provided a $3,000 grant to support this on-going partnership for the school and art center.
“Originally they would come four-times, but we did have to cut that back to two times a year this year because of funding, however, we have visited the school as well and so we have a really deep and meaningful relationship with the school,” Kozub said.
“One of the most difficult things with arts and education and tour programs is really the costs of actually getting the students to the places,” said Scott Propeack, chief curator & associate director at Burchfield.
Propeack praises the Allentown Village Association for supplying the education grant for the Bilingual students.
“But you know when we have a program where we’re trying to bring every student from a single school in, it adds up really quickly, so we were able to cover the cost for all the buses for all of the kids in the school to come multiple times,” Propeak responded.
We caught up with the students as they toured a section of the gallery where a docent was explain various paintings and artwork.
“It’s very cool because you know we see new things – you know we learn a little bit about the art and it kind of makes me feel good about it,” said Angelise Ramos, fifth grader at the school.
Ramos has learned about sketching.
“Things from a long time ago, like new different things,” replied Ramos. “I’ve learned a lot and we can even use like math and different subjects to include in our art work,” Ramos explained.
“To see different things and like sculptures,” remarked Carmella Bartsch, fifth grader.
Bartsch said she enjoys drawing. She also told us what she tells her friends about her visits to Burchfield. “How fun was it and how cool it was,” responded Bartsch.
“They’re so excited and it’s not just because they’re not in school – they’re really excited about doing something and learning something. It’s amazing to watch kids outside of school so excited about learning,” stated Propeack.
“The most incredible thing happened when we actually, myself and a number of docents visited their school. They were so excited that we took the time to come into their environment and to spend time in their world – they ran up to us and hugged us, took our hands, showed us their work – work that wasn’t necessarily art.
The program has been so success that in the Burchfield education staff has been recognized for excellence by the U.S. Education Department and former First Lady Michele Obama for developing it. Student visits allow for creative exercises it draws a direct correlation back to what’s occurring in their classrooms.