Swan River School students showed off a year’s worth of student artwork at a breakfast held for parents and community members in the school cafeteria on Friday, May 13.
For a total of 20 weeks over the course of the school year, students explored their artistic talents under the direction of Jan Lord, an artist who was contracted by the school using funds from a grant the school received through the National Endowment for the Arts.
“There are some incredibly talented kids in this school,” said Lord, who has been teaching art for over 30 years.
“Kids that aren’t doing well scholastically, or that have learning disabilities, I find those kids really grow with art,” Lord said.
She tries to have each grade level complete one project per week. The curriculum varies according to grade level, but she tries to expose the kids to a variety of art media and world cultures.
This year, for example, students have experimented with sand art, clay, watercolors and collages in their exploration of artistic styles found in Mexican, Egyptian and Native American art.
“I try to get the kids thinking about the world,” Lord said.
She also talks to the kids about possibly pursuing their own careers in art.
“I tell them, ‘We need you guys. We need creative people in this world,’” Lord said. “The creative minds are those who are going to change the world.”
Betty Darr, the fourth grade teacher at Swan River School, said she and her teaching colleagues are grateful for Lord’s enthusiasm and expertise.
“I never have anybody absent on art day,” Darr said. “It’s just amazing what she gets out of them.”
This is Lord’s fourth year teaching art at Swan River School. The school organizes the breakfast each spring to display student work for the public.
“We love showcasing what Jan Lord does because she is a phenomenal art teacher, and our kids are so fortunate to have her.”
Darr’s fourth-grade students traditionally help greet guests and serve food during the breakfast.
“She is a really good teacher,” fourth-grader Hannah Crutsinger said of Lord. “She travels to lots of different countries, and then she comes back and teaches us how to do artwork from all the different places she goes to.”
“She likes us to have a lot of detail,” added fourth-grader Ty Haveman.
Lord said the school has already completed the grant paperwork for next year, and she hopes the program will receive funding again.
To supplement the cost of the art program, Swan River School students will also join together for a fundraiser at this summer’s Festival of the Arts. Additionally, they will sell raffle tickets for a condo stay and a painting donated by artist Tom Lewis.