As the 2015-2016 school year comes to a close, many students and educators nervously await the release of scores that, according to state and local education departments, tell us our worth as teachers and learners.
But these numbers do not rate us on our humanity and on our ability to love and add beauty to our troubled world. Official data such as test scores and teacher evaluation ratings cannot capture the spirit of our classrooms.
In celebrating our meaningful – and largely unsung – work, I wish to highlight an amazing project conceived by a fifth grade class in a Title I public elementary school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Inspiration for the project, which is called From Artistic Inspiration to Education, came from two main sources: the students’ study of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and stories told to them by their teacher, Maria Diaz, who recently visited an impoverished village in the Dominican Republic. In promoting Article 26 of the UDHR, which states that “everyone has the right to education,” Class 5-502 decided to raise money for the school in the village their teacher visited.
Here’s what the students of class 502 wrote on their fundraising webpage:
We are so lucky to have a school that provides us with all the educational supplies we need. Buying school supplies and uniforms is a challenge for all of the 13 kids that attend that school and we want to be able to provide those basic supplies for them.
To date, the students have raised a little more than $1,375.00. This week, class 502 is inviting the school community to visit their classroom, which they’ve converted into an art gallery to showcase their UDHR-inspired artwork as well as to provide more information about the school they are supporting. On Thursday, June 16, the students of class 502 will auction off their paintings. The silent auction will take place at P.S. 24 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn from 3:30 – 7:00 pm (427 38th Street between 4th and 5th Aves.). Please come (or donate online). Witnessing the students’ enthusiasm and empathy will give you hope for the future. Their words of wisdom – whether intentional or not – will also move you. One student wrote this about her painting: “I enjoyed creating it even though it looks messy and a bunch of curvy lines. That is what art is all about. That is what education is all about.”
Here is a sampling of their creations.