Live turkeys inspire lawn avenue artists
The birds were visiting the school as part of a new initiative through the Lawn Avenue School Improvement Team called Volunteers in Education. VIE takes teacher requests and matches volunteers and resources to meet the need. "Ultimately, we are a way for teachers to bring in additional resources for the classroom and to not overburden the teachers," coadministrator Lisa Carlisle said.
The idea to bring the turkeys to the school came after art teacher Stephanie Pamula visited Watson Farm in the spring with her daughter. "Watson Farm has really made an effort to reach out to the schools and the community as a resource," Pamula said. "It is easy for us to get inanimate objects for the kids to draw, but not as easy to get animate objects. So, I thought it was a great opportunity to use the farm outreach and tie the school and the farm together."
Pamula was not sure exactly how the request could be facilitated, but she filled out the VIE request form and was contacted by co-administrator Ann Zainyeh. "I thought maybe they could help us bus the kids out to the farm, but instead they ran with it and Don Minto brought the turkeys here," Pamula said.
The two turkeys, one male and one female, were housed in a cage outside of the art room window and, thanks to some cooperation from clear weather, students were able to go outside to observe and draw them. All of the young artists were required to sketch the birds, but they were allowed to get creative when putting the finishing touches on the project.
"They could add color through whatever media they chose or they could even make a sculpture from clay if they wanted to," Pamula said.
The art teacher said that what the students learned from the lesson is more important than just the difference between being able to re-create a moving or non-moving object. "They got to see that artists get their inspiration in a million different ways, and this layer is just another one of those ways," she said. One student, Michael Coletta, used a feather that fell off of the turkey as a visual to add the appearance of texture to his twodimensional drawing.
All kids are into animals, Pamula said, so the project was of interest even to those students who do not consider themselves "into art."
"They forget they are drawing from an object because the subject is so fascinating. They really lose themselves in the process," Pamula said. "The likenesses of the turkeys are excellent."
Carlisle said the turkeys are just one example of how VIE has helped make classroom learning more interesting to students.
Parents have helped build a large globe model for the sixth grade and parents with an interest in gardening have taken over the maintenance of the fifth grade planters in the library hallway.
"Once kids enter middle school, kids, and even teachers, don't want parents there as much. VIE is a way help parents and community members to be connected to the school," she said.