Plexiglass panels painted with bright happy faces and lopsided grins triggered real grins from the students at St. Lawrence School. Sarah Weinberg was part of the inspiration. Sarah sponsored by the LIFE grouped, helped students explore the world through painting. Students were paired for the project and each painted a face on the Plexiglas for their partner. They then were photographed with the Plexiglas face held in front of their own.
Although Sarah is not a teacher on staff at St. Lawrence, she makes special appearances to teach the students about art. “Every student in kindergarten through grade six receives an art lesson,” Sarah says, “The younger kids do their projects quicker and have no nerves at all about what they are doing. It’s a chance for them to apply paint and see what happens, to be creative with no pressure.” Sarah says, during the art lessons, she “makes sure they all understand there is no right or wrong answer.”
Experts agree. They say painting provides a sanctuary for children. Painting allows children to to lose themselves in the brush strokes and the feeling of accomplishment they get from a finished project can help erase negative feelings about other things.
As more art classes are being taken out of schools in favor of STEM-related classes, Sarah is happy to take art to school. She says she believes art still has a place in the curriculum because “art has a relationship with everything.” Students develop critical-thinking skills and must independently make decisions about what works and what doesn’t. She says, “Art gives children a place to express, a place to fail, and the opportunity to fix it as they see it. Art gives them a place where they don’t have to conform.”
Sometimes, though, the simplest part of learning is the best. Sarah says” I like teaching art to kids because I want them to learn it is okay to be yourself.”
What do the kids think? Sarah says, “The kids love it. They are always encouraging each other to be more creative.”