it's Art" is an apt slogan for Haliburton. Sir Sanford
Fleming's School of Fine Arts has been operating there for
32 years. It's such an idyllic place to study and commune
with nature that I jumped at the chance to take part in a
summer pilot project offered this year.
introduction of The Ontario Curriculum, The Arts, the Haliburton
School of Fine Arts decided to offer courses designed specifically
for elementary teachers. What I found especially appealing,
was the fact that this would be the first time I would teach
classes where everyone was a primary teacher. Most often classes
combine primary and junior teachers, or more likely everyone
from grades one to OAC. The larger mix certainly works, since
everything is adaptable, but I relished the thought of being
able to really zero in on the details of teaching within a
remember sitting with Chris Lynd, the coordinator of the project,
brainstorming how to shape the program. I was thrilled when
she asked me , along with Wili and Deline Lottering, teachers
from the York Region District School Board, to be part of
the teaching team. We were very excited to be part of such
a practical approach to teacher in-service. Our excitement
grew as the start-up day approached.
of Fine Arts is housed in three separate buildings in Haliburton.
The original school, which is at the far end of town, is full
of studio spaces for things such as clay and weaving. J.D.
Hodgson Elementary School is transformed into studio spaces
for the duration of the summer, and the High School is completely
filled with yet more studios. What a wonderful place for teachers
to learn about how to teach art, surrounded on all sides by
adults and some children fully immersed in learning the arts
for the pure joy of it.
was in the high school and faced into a courtyard. As the
week progressed, the courtyard was gradually transformed into
a sculpture garden by budding reed weavers. Imagine my surprise
when I bumped into an old friend who was busily weaving a
garden angel. Judy Royle, a principal with the York Region
District School Board, was glowing. "Oh Heather,"
she sighed, "I had no idea making art could be so thrilling.
It's all I want to do!" I laughed as she told about how
someone from the office had looked into the garden, projecting
mild disapproval at the mess. "We knew we were going
to clean it up," exclaimed Judy. She went on to reveal
that as a principal, she might have had the same reaction
when her teachers were in the throes of creation. "Not
> anymore!" she promised.
thing Monday morning, after a peaceful drive through the glorious
countryside, I was greeted by a gregarious and eager group
of primary teachers. What a wonderful time we had as a rhythm
for the day quickly emerged. We spent the first hour discussing
pertinent issues, then we made some art. Later we talked about
how to connect what we had done to the classroom. All the
projects were practical and hands-on. We dealt with painting,
drawing, sculpture and printmaking, looking at art and assessment.
to planning developmental units, and planning for the whole
year were also addressed. What I enjoyed the most about this
week in Haliburton was the energy and spirit each participant
brought to the group. We all learned from each other as people
shared their ideas and projects. I was surprised to note that
one of the teachers in our class was a retired teacher and
artist. Helen Newton had a whole raft of ideas to share, including
a mini-lesson she provided on marbleizing paper. Helen decided
to take the class so she could learn some new ideas to help
teachers when she goes into supply teach. She wanted to be
able to take in lessons that are aligned with the new curriculum.
such a privilege to work with this summer group. They reminded
me of how dedicated, professional and inspiring teachers are.
There we were, surrounded by nature, and hundreds of other
people, all making art. What better way to learn and have
a holiday too!?
my students wrote recently about the course .... "It
was a fantastic experience for me, and very helpful when it
came to making my long range plans for visual arts. I have
already made two of the enormous circle paintings with my
class, and they look great!... they are so beautiful and the
kids love them. Thank you for sharing this , along with so
many other great ideas! I certainly hope that you are able
to offer the course again next year, so that other teachers
can benefit! "
hope so too.