Art Will Go On

Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.By Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.      October 30, 2020

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Art Will Go On
Randy Butler
Distance learning at Topanga Elementary Charter School is running smoothly. Of course, there are a few technology glitches, and we all realize this is not the optimal way for most students to learn, but the students are learning. In addition to required academic instruction and thanks to our wonderful Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) parent committee, and Topanga Enrichment Programs (TEP) Board, enough money has been raised to fund our hugely successful visual arts program. We were faced with the challenge of getting art materials to our students, so they are able to expand their art experiences beyond simple drawing. Mrs. Moria De la O, who has been teaching first grade at Topanga for 16 years (with LAUSD for 21 years), was up to the challenge, creating a Donors Choose project to fund and provide art materials for all students. The supply kit includes three 8-ounce jars of paint (primary colors), 3-ounce jars of six other colors of paint, a set of oil pastels, and a palette of watercolors for every student.  We raised $6,975.93 to fund this project with 77 donations. TEP and VAPA had already purchased colored pencils, markers, and clay, and basic art materials such as paper, crayons, scissors and glue are provided to all students through the LAUSD. “Our community thrives through art and all of our students produce beautiful pieces that capture the essence of that spirit,” said Mrs. De la O, first grade teacher, and project author. “My Gran was an artist who was not able to pursue her passion, instead staying to work on her family farm.  She instilled a great love of art and creating within my family that I hope to pass that along to my students and our school community.” Our students are fortunate to have an art teacher, devoted to giving the students an art education. Ms. Randy Butler, Creative Educator, came to us with a wealth of experience and has adapted beautifully to teaching via Zoom. Though nothing can replace the joy of creating art in-person, by offering the students weekly art classes, they are able to create much-needed art.
Moria De la O
“Teaching art is, by far, one of the most critical and undervalued part of a child’s academic journey. Thankfully, at Topanga Canyon Elementary school, the community values all the arts and when I was asked to come on board not only was I surprised but I was honored, Ms.Butler said. “The students at Topanga Elementary are exceptionally talented and have shown me that their natural ability to create masterpieces full of imagination is a nourished element of their everyday environment. Most of our lessons are compiled of a variety of mediums such as watercolor, oil pastels, chalk pastels, and so much more. My biggest goal is to connect their inner voice with a canvas and allow them to express themselves with joy and freedom. At Topanga Elementary we believe that the arts are an integral part of learning and I’m so graced to be a part of that.” 

From the VAPA parent group, the reviews are positive. The parents who responded wished to respect the team effort and remain anonymous, but their words reflect the positive impact the art program is having, especially during distance learning.

“Having a robust art program for elementary schools, especially during distance learning is crucial.  It has offered students a much-needed break in their day with a whole different kind of focus it takes to create art.  I am grateful for Mrs. De la O putting this together and for the families who donated funds to make this happen.  Also, for the team of TECS staff that are putting together the packages to go home. It has been a team effort to bring materials to our kiddos that I’m sure will brighten their day,” a VAPA parent, who requested not to be named, said.
Distance Learner doing art
“Teaching art is, by far, one of the most critical and undervalued part of a child’s academic journey. Thankfully, at Topanga Canyon Elementary school, the community values all the arts and when I was asked to come on board not only was I surprised but I was honored, Ms.Butler said. “The students at Topanga Elementary are exceptionally talented and have shown me that their natural ability to create masterpieces full of imagination is a nourished element of their everyday environment. Most of our lessons are compiled of a variety of mediums such as watercolor, oil pastels, chalk pastels, and so much more. My biggest goal is to connect their inner voice with a canvas and allow them to express themselves with joy and freedom. At Topanga Elementary we believe that the arts are an integral part of learning and I’m so graced to be a part of that.” 

From the VAPA parent group, the reviews are positive. The parents who responded wished to respect the team effort and remain anonymous, but their words reflect the positive impact the art program is having, especially during distance learning.

“Having a robust art program for elementary schools, especially during distance learning is crucial.  It has offered students a much-needed break in their day with a whole different kind of focus it takes to create art.  I am grateful for Mrs. De la O putting this together and for the families who donated funds to make this happen. 
Second Grade students created dioramas of landforms and bodies of water.
Also, for the team of TECS staff that are putting together the packages to go home. It has been a team effort to bring materials to our kiddos that I’m sure will brighten their day,” a VAPA parent, who requested not to be named, said. form without the limits and rules other subjects require.  It can also be a way for bringing those subjects to life.  For example, second-grade students are making dioramas of landforms and bodies of water they learned about in science recently,” said another anonymous VAPA parent.

About Donors Choose. Donors Choose started in 2000, when Charles Best, a teacher at a Bronx public high school, wanted his students to read Little House on the Prairie. As he was making photocopies of the one book he could procure, he thought about all the money he and his colleagues were spending on books, art supplies, and other materials. He figured there were people who would want to help if they could see where their money was going. Best sketched out a website where teachers could post classroom project requests, and and donors could choose the ones they wanted to support. His colleagues posted the first 11 requests. Then it spread and today, Donors Choose is open to every public school in America
Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.

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