Friday, August 17, 2018

CIao! Adios! Nos Vemos!

When I was in middle school, I started writing a song with the chorus "I don't know the words to say goodbye..." Many years later, it's still hard.

In 2016, I started at Brashear excited to run the Allentown Learning Engagement Center and to be able to work with students embedded in my community. Two years later, I'm about to start my own family, and while I'll remain a part of the Allentown community as a resident, being at home with my baby and focusing on my artistic practice is the new challenge I await. It was not an easy decision that ultimately came down to time and money (like all things, right?). My consolation is that I will still see many of my students and families as their neighbor, able to fight for the quality of life in our neighborhood in new ways.

Let's take a minute to look back on some of my favorite moments together:

My first act as Education Coordinator was to create a mural with the help of the student in our side lot. This was a fun way to meet the families and get the students involved in what I love to do- draw and create custom lettering!
Speaking of art... Personally, I am a zinester (maker of zines), designer and illustrator. It's been a pleasure to share my passions with the students and get them out of their comfort zones. Above, we are binding our coloring book zines and trying out some blind contour drawing. 

These are two of my proudest moments from Art Camps gone by. We ended our 2017 Art Camp with a gallery show at the Black Unicorn Project and our 2018 Art Camp with a visit to the Frick Art & Historical Center to see the Impressionist exhibit and practice en plein aire drawing on the beautiful grounds.

Besides artmaking, I really loved getting outside with our students. Our outings with Venture Outdoors during summer camps were my first time kayaking! I was pretty bummed when the doctor told me that I shouldn't bike or kayak this summer at 8 months pregnant. I love to be on the water!

I also loved exploring our park here in Allentown with my students. Grandview is so close to my house and is really a gem with it's beautiful views and trails. This past winter, I was happy to work with the Parks Conservancy to bring some pizazz to our winter outings. 

Not only do I love getting outside to adventure, I love to garden! Exposing the students to our garden and the food that we grew was such a pleasure. Pictured above is a winter squash and kohlrabi, which the kids asked for more of this year. I even got my mom involved in last year's summer camp as she is a master gardener and taught me everything I know. 

My students will tell you, I hate litter. So, I was very proud when they identified litter in Allentown as the problem they wanted to tackle with the help of our Americorps Service Project. Project HAND received a grant through Remake Learning to purchase two new trash cans for the neighborhood and placed several signs along Warrington reminding people to throw their trash where it belongs!

 Here's just a few images I love from my time with Brashear:
Principal Fisher has an amazing voice! I will definitely be back to Grandview to see some of the student performances.

I love celebrating Remake Learning Days with a gallery show and using fancy vocabulary to make the kids feel more like professional artists.
I learned so much from the YCreator Space about circuits, programming and robots.

Here's some of the art I got to make for Brashear:

Thank you to Dianna, our Americorps members Anna, Alyce, Christa, Neal, Malik, and Abby, all of our tutors and interns from Duquesne University and of course our Learn & Earn student over the summers, Jazmine. Without you, the center would have been in complete chaos.

Thank you to our partners, Venture Outdoors, the Y Creator Space, Strong Women Strong Girls, A Giving Heart and the Carnegie Library for your support and enriching activities during afterschool.

Thank you to all the community based organizations, volunteers and neighbors who support our work everyday.

Thank you to the Grandview preK-5 staff, especially Ms. Cindy, Dr. D, Principal Fisher and Vice Principal George for their hard work with the students during the day.

Thank you to Arlington K-8 staff, especially Ms. Tyler and the staff at the Neighborhood Learning Alliance who welcomed us into your building and programs to provide cooking lessons.

Finally, thank you to the Brashear staff and their tireless work to serve the people of South Pittsburgh. It's been a pleasure to be your colleague.

Peace out, yinz! See you on Warrington with baby on the OUTSIDE of me!

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