Volunteer Spotlight: DMA Docents & Mesquite Week
Here at the DMA, you might notice both staff and our amazing DMA docents breathing a sigh of relief. Last week we successfully wrapped up Mesquite Week, one of our most challenging and significant partnerships of the year.
Mesquite Week was started in 1985 by Dr. William Hooper, the arts coordinator for the Mesquite Independent School District. Inspired by MISD’s tradition of offering students an opportunity to visit the symphony and the opera, Dr. Hooper hoped to establish an annual visit to the DMA. However, the DMA had just moved to the new downtown building—folks were wary about too many kids, too much of a time commitment, and not enough docents. Susan Cueller, the Head Docent at the time, took up the challenge of writing the teaching materials, coordinating a schedule, and overseeing the tours. Interestingly, Mesquite Week was the first time we provided pre-visit materials for teachers to build into their lesson plans. The partnership was very successful the first year, and MISD and the DMA have been coordinating to plan trips ever since.
This year we served all of MISD’s 6th grade students and the 8th grade visual arts students. That’s a staggering 2,740 students in six days–wow!
We sat down with Susan Cuellar and Joanie Smith, who currently shares Head Docent responsibilities with Jane Sibley, to chat about Mesquite Week and their experience as DMA docents.
Thanks to the DMA docents, we’re able to pull off ambitious programs like Mesquite Week and offer thousands of students guided tours of the Museum each year. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’re reminded of how grateful we are for our volunteers who share their time and passion for art so generously, and I’m sure 2,740 MISD students would agree.
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs
McDermott Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching