Pace School offers an exceptional alternative to traditional ESY programming for students with emotional disturbance and autism through a partnership with Gateway to the Arts. Utilizing art as a framework for learning, students are introduced to an extensive mixture of imaginative opportunities using applied artistic processes to build social and emotional skills. Through music, art, and drama, students experience new opportunities for collaboration and expression. This summer the Chuba classroom has the gratification to have Mr. Ricardo from the Gateway to the Arts in the classroom every morning!

Week 2 – Day 7 of ESY at Pace School

Today was an exhilarating day in the Chuba classroom!

The kids bounded off their buses with brilliant smiles on their faces  and enthusiasm for what the day would bring! They came into the building with laughter as they greeted friends, familiar faces, and staff. After the students placed their belongings in their locker, they got breakfast from Ms. Henry and came back to the classroom to eat. While they ate, there was morning work for them to complete. We, as staff, were available for help if the kids needed it. They are always such hard workers and get their morning work done without a fuss!

Before the activities of the day originated, the classroom participated in Community Meeting; where we come together to acknowledge that we are a community and that we share responsibility for each other. During this time, we shared with each other how we were feeling, what our goal was for the day, and who could help us maintain reaching our goal.  This established the precedent for the expectations of the day.

This morning Mr. Ricardo continued to apply art as a framework for learning in our classroom.  *The students absolutely adore Mr. Ricardo and are truly grateful for the time he spends  in our classroom working with them.* Today Mr. Ricardo taught the students how one can encode protective feelings and ideas through the construction and use of masks and African symbols to resolve individual feelings. The students were intently focused on every word Mr. Ricardo expressed and were wholly involved in his stories. They laughed at the humorous, responded when called on, and offered their ever so ingenious ideas!

The first activity presented by Mr. Ricardo was to have each student create their own mask!  To create the masks, the kids were provided with a huge assortment of materials from paper to fabric, and everything in between.  Mr. Ricardo asked the students to create a mask that represented how they were feeling, what it might say, or the feeling they wanted to give to the mask. The creativity that presented through their work was astounding to view! The students completely treasured this activity!

An additional activity presented was with a square of burlap and large plastic needles pre-threaded and knotted with yarn, the students were shown how to start in the back and go up and down to make a “running stitch”. While doing so Mr. Ricardo sang……the needle and the thread go up and down up and down all through the day” (to wheels on the bus tune)! The students then picked an African symbol, from a provided chart, which represented their mask. On burlap square they drew the symbol with chalk. Then they used needle and thread, stitched a running stitch along the lines (see picture attached in previous email). It was remarkable to see what the students fashioned through their contemplation of what their individual mask represented.

Overall, the morning with Mr. Ricardo was another tremendous occasion! The students learned a great deal about personal feelings and how their feelings and ideas can be encoded through the creation and use of masks and African symbols!

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