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Community Connection: Booker T. Washington Learning Lab

September 4, 2012

Being a part of the Dallas Arts District has its distinct advantages. One advantage is being located within walking distance of other arts institutions, making it easier to develop close and in-depth partnerships. For instance, we have just started the second year of our Learning Lab partnership with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In this partnership, DMA Education staff work with Visual Arts teachers to lead experiences and projects at the DMA and at the school (the school also partners in this way with the Dallas Theater Center and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra).

This year, Andrea and Shannon are working with Krystal Read and Leslie Eames and their junior portfolio classes.

Krystal Read

Describe this class and what you envision your students doing throughout the year.

Krystal: It’s a great opportunity since it’s taught by both a school instructor and museum educator, and students will be learning about different aspects of the art world. So, we’ll cover things like aesthetics, museum practices, and a little bit of contemporary art.  A lot of what they’ll be doing in class at school is preparing for their portfolio and getting career-ready.  I think the museum helps expose them to that type of professionalism.

Leslie: It is kind of a dual class, with two parts combined together.  One part is preparing the students for their senior year by writing resumes, making a portfolio, and all the things that come with being a senior at Booker T., such as a senior show and a portfolio day with visiting colleges.  We’re also preparing students who might want to go right into the workforce by showing them what the world has to offer them as artists.  The other half of our class is Learning Lab and working with the DMA and Shannon Karol.  Shannon visited our classroom earlier this week, and the excitement level was astounding. The students are very excited to learn about the behind-the-scenes preparation for exhibits.  Many don’t realize that you’re often not just an artist; you’re also a critic and a curator.

Leslie Eames with Gary Pierce Jr. and her son Madden

What are you most excited about or looking forward to in this partnership?

Krystal: I’m most excited about the interactive experiences and that so much of our class is taking place outside of the classroom.  I’m organizing an opportunity for them to possibly do an earth-friendly installation at Klyde Warren Park.  The students are doing something different in this class; a lot have a more classical, traditional training in art, so we’re forcing them to step outside the box.

For me, it’s also so exciting because I started off in museum education and I wanted to do more teaching.  I’m excited that those paths have finally crossed back over and somehow synced back together.

Leslie: I am excited that I get to learn as much as the students about the DMA.  I had no idea that I would be teaching this class, or that it existed.  As I met with my supervisor before school started, we went over course expectations and I just couldn’t believe what an awesome job I had and that I get to learn with the students.

What was a highlight of your summer vacation? 

Krystal: This past summer, I was overwhelmed with weddings, and I’m getting married myself. We’ve gone to so many weddings in the past few months.  We went to Houston for a wedding, and the next morning we went to The Breakfast Klub, a soul food brunch café that was amazing.  Breakfast is my favorite meal; I just love it.  As silly as it sounds, I was so excited about having good food.

Leslie: The highlight of my summer was taking a month off between my last job and this job and spending that month with my five-year-old son, which is something I’ve never been able to do.  He didn’t know what summer was; I’ve had him in Montessori up until now, so he didn’t know people had summers off.  We took a train ride to Oklahoma and a couple of different road trips, and made sure we had all the summer fun we could have.  We both learned we have summer vacation every year to look forward to.

Look for future blog posts about the fun and exciting experiences we’ll share with these students and teachers throughout the 2012-13 school year!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

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