Windsor Elementary School, 5 minutes from where I live, is embarking on an arts integrated residency exploring connections between monarch butterflies, journeys, metamorphosis in all of us, and creativity. My wife Heather Terrill Stotts did the sizable leg work to make this happen. She teaches second grade and is also a driving force in bringing creative and other learning opportunities to the school. Coupled with the the support of the building principal, Roy Bernards, donations from multiple community organizations and the Windsor PTO, as well as a collaboration with the Deforest Public Library, this is an inspiring endeavor.
The project is a collaboration between three artists, the students, and the staff of the school. Jenni Fristed of Ultimate Leap Dance Center will work with students to create dances based on the life cycle of butterflies. Amy Mietzel of Bare Knuckle Arts is facilitating the creation of an art installation with art teacher Megan Nelson for what is now a fairly barren entrance hall to the school. I will work with music teacher Danielle Iskandarani and all students to write and learn songs about butterflies.
This type of project is rare. Most residencies I’ve been involved in are just me, or, lately, just me and Tom Pease. The opportunity to work with other artists from other art forms is exciting and offers possibilities of synergy in many ways.
In addition the integrated nature of the project, connecting to what kids and teachers know is fundamental. I’ve spent a lot of time leading arts integration workshops for teachers based on the Kennedy Center’s work, and this project is a great example of true arts integration, according to the KC definition.
The final performance is Thursday, March 14 at the school. Stop by!