Walking through Wardlaw’s northern wing looked a little different last week. On Thursday, March 5th, 2020, a restored display case and accompanying bulletin board in Wardlaw College were unveiled as a location to proudly honor Professional Development Schools with whom the university has partnerships.
A short ceremony featuring Pontiac Elementary School’s students’ paintings and sculptures kicked off what will be a rotating showcase of K-12 student work. In attendance were Pontiac Elementary students, their parents, Pontiac’s spotlighted teacher, Ashley Quam; principal Katie Barber, Ph.D. and assistant principal DeAnna Savage of Pontiac Elementary; Professional Development Schools clinical adjunct Joan Morgan; and Professional Development Schools university liaison Jennifer Morrison, Ph.D.
Also in attendance were PDS Network Director Cindy Van Buren, along with other faculty and staff from the College of Education.
When asked about the thought process behind the new showcase, Morrison explained: “One of the things I considered when I took over the display case was that university personnel often go into district schools to supervise interns, conduct workshops, and teach embedded classes, but we rarely invite the K-12 schools into our space here. Celebrating the incredible work of students and their teachers seemed like a great way to utilize these spaces.”
The response to the newly renovated display was highly positive. “The kids are so excited to have their artwork here,” Quam pointed out. “It’s a very big deal for them and their parents to have their hard work on display at the university.” One first grader attended the ceremony dressed in a sparkly party dress. Her mother said, “She wanted to really dress up since this was the first gallery showing of her art.”
In addition to student artwork, the gallery also includes information on the featured school’s spotlighted teacher, including educational philosophy and professional books that have impacted her educational practice. Ashley Quam chose to feature Engaging Learners Through Artmaking by Douglas & Jaquith and the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (also known as TAB,) educational philosophy because, as she states, “I am a strong proponent for choice education. Through TAB, the student is seen as the artist and the classroom is seen as their studio. The teacher is a facilitator of discovery and offers demonstrations that teach technique, but the student is the main determiner of subject matter.”
Because Pontiac Elementary School is a Leader in Me Lighthouse School, the display also showcases Stephen Covey’s books The Leader in Me and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the latter of which was highlighted as a professionally impactful book by Pontiac’s Professional Development Schools Liaison, Jennifer Morrison.
Pontiac’s students’ artwork can be seen in the Wardlaw College of Education north wing display case through May, 2020.