Dedicated volunteers coupled with great support from teachers and family interest have made it possible to launch the Art Corps program this year at Fair Oaks Elementary School, a year earlier than expected.
Fair Oaks Parent Teacher Club President Jo Harris said that they began looking into the comprehensive art curriculum last year and met with an Art Corps administrator who visited Cloverland Elementary School, which carries the program, that summer.
Harris said that they came away from the meeting excited that they could bring it to Fair Oaks. They expected it to take two years to get the program implemented at Fair Oaks, but with so much support and fundraising success, they were able to introduce it this year.
“We worked the end of last (school) year. We held two art nights to find out if families were interested,” Harris said.
She added that they originally planned to hold only one art night but were so inundated with families at it that they decided to hold a second art night. For the first art night, the San Diego Art Corps representatives traveled to Oakdale to provide instruction. Cloverland Art Corps volunteers helped run the second one.
The Fair Oaks PTC got Art Corps off the ground financially by using money collected from the school’s Family Fun Night. They took volunteer sign ups at back-to-school night and the first day of school.
“We’ve had a great response,” said Fair Oaks Art Corps Director Ashley Avila.
She reported that they still need a few more parent volunteers but for the most part, they have three to four parents per classroom who’ve signed up to help. The Art Corps program recommends three volunteers per classroom.
“You don’t have to be an artist or good at art to be a parent volunteer,” Avila said.
She noted that only one person in their group has had actual art training, but no one else has an art background. Part of the Art Corps philosophy is that everyone is an artist and there are no right or wrong answers.
“Art Corps makes it extremely easy for parent volunteers to teach the children the techniques,” she said.
Avila said that they started with a group of about 10 parent club members to bring in the program. She added that Fair Oaks kindergarten teacher Michelle Jones really helped them get their ducks in a row to get started, as Jones previously taught at Cloverland and was one of the original group of volunteers to get Art Corps established there.
Avila noted that Kyle Richardson from the Cloverland Art Corps program is also helping the Fair Oaks group with managing their supplies, one of the most challenging jobs, and is training a Fair Oaks volunteer to do the job.
The first Art Corps volunteer orientation is Sept. 6 where they’ll learn what to expect from the program.
This year, Avila said Fair Oaks will group kindergarten and first grade lessons, second and third grade lessons, and fourth through sixth grade lessons to roll out the program for the students to learn the fine arts terminology and lessons. In the future, the lessons will be more grade level specific, but it also depends on how the children respond to the program.
“As we grow, we’ll grow into all seven grades having (their own) lessons,” Avila said.
Each classroom will receive eight lessons, one per month, that cover the Art Corps objectives of line, space, value, color, texture, composition, and famous artist. Each lesson builds on prior lessons and each grade level advances and grows each year.
Each one-hour lesson requires about three to four hours of volunteer time, which includes a one-hour workshop per lesson for the volunteer, plus set up time, teaching the lesson, and clean up.
Avila said that although the parent club purchased the majority of their supplies, they still need a few more for the program and they have a donation basket in the school office where it shows what they need. For any parents who are interested in volunteering with the program or to make a donation, contact Avila via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.