School of Art strives to connect with community, set example

Kent State’s School of Art is working to set an example for its fellow schools and colleges by employing one important principle of the university’s strategic plan: “Engage with the world beyond our campuses.”

“We would like our program to be a model,” said Robin Vande Zande, assistant professor and head of the art education department. “We really are trying very hard to reach out to the community. We want to bridge the gap between formal education and artistic and cultural endeavors of the community.”

Community values and beliefs play a vital role in what is taught, Vande Zande said, and students shadow elementary school teachers and observe classrooms throughout Northeast Ohio to better understand the key values in this region that determine how children in this area should be taught.

“We want to encourage students to write lessons that build relationships, appreciate the community and in a more advanced lesson, work toward social change,” Vande Zande said.

Kerry Cumpstone, a post-undergraduate art education student, developed a curriculum for third-grade students in the Euclid-Lyndhurst School District. The children studied, designed and built gardens around local schools. The program led to the development of the third-grade group The Galaxy Gardeners, and they learned about dissecting daffodil and tulip bulbs. After field trips that involved bark and leaf rubbings, the children began participating in flower arranging for the Cleveland Botanical Garden Flower Show.

“The program proved to be a tremendously rewarding experience because it was completely designed by the children, then we reached out to these garden clubs,” Cumpstone said. “We really brought in the whole community, and they all took pride in it.”

Students in Kent State’s art education program are also taught to be conscious of global educational matters.

“We want to connect our students locally, nationally and globally,” assistant professor Linda Hoeptner-Poling said. “From the get-go, students in the foundations course learn to think about and plan curricula that consider local, national and global identities.”

Contact College of Architecture and Environmental Design and School of Art reporter Shauna Stottsberry at [email protected]