Art education majors volunteer at detention center

Marissa Eisenbrei

A new volunteer program emerged this summer: Art education majors visit the

Portage County Juvenile Detention Center and teach students art history.

Dan Humphrey, a senior art education major and president of the National Art

Education Association student chapter, established the program this year.

Humphrey said he “immediately fell in love with the students” at the detention

center during his field experience.

“I enjoy knowing that I’m making [the students’] day that much better,” Humphrey


The program provides kids in the detention center the opportunity to learn art for

a 10-week period. Kent Students teach two, hour-and-a-half-long classes every

Friday. Out of the 15 volunteers, three to six visit the detention center each week.

“We also prepare students for alternative teaching, so they’re really getting this

powerful, holistic, ‘I can teach anywhere’ experience,” Linda Poling, art education

coordinator, said.

Students at the center are between the ages of 12 and 17. Each class has about

seven or eight students. Humphrey said they generally focus on lessons about

contemporary art.

“We really stress the use of contemporary art because it speaks to the current

generation,” Poling said.

During each class session, the volunteers teach art history, play game then go into

the studio. They develop their own lesson plans and topics to teach the students

based off of their own interests.

“Personally, I find a work I really enjoy then find two more supporting artworks that

support it,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey’s favorite lesson was based off of TOMS shoes. TOMS is an organization

that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need when another pair is purchased.

Humphrey’s lesson was to make two ceramic coffee mugs. Students could keep one

and the other was donated. By the end of the lesson, students wanted to donate


“The students realized they were making a difference in someone’s life,” Humphrey


Volunteers gradually build rapport with the students.

Julie Dorff, art education professor, said the students have different comfort levels

and fears. She also said each student starts at a different point.

However, with the prior field experience of the volunteers, students become more

comfortable in the classroom.

“Their ability to take charge in the classroom and the inner confidence makes the

learning so much more powerful,” Dorff, said.

Humphrey said the number of volunteers exceeded his expectations of the program.

Kent State art education majors have been visiting center 20 years for their field

experience, and this is the first time it branched to summer. The program will be

continued for future summers.

Contact Marissa Eisenbrei at [email protected].