The class is part of an award-winning volunteer art program that was developed through the efforts of parent Lynne Millar. She started the program because she was unhappy that Kelly School, where her son Ethan studies, stopped offering art classes as a result of state budget cuts.
So in 2009, Millar, who had an art history background, started teaching weekly lessons for Ethan’s second-grade class.
The next year, Millar recruited other parents to lend a hand.
Now, she has introduced art into 23 classrooms at Kelly School and expanded her parent-volunteer art program to 12 teachers for the 2012-13 school year.
All the hard work led to Millar receiving the SBLI Superstars Volunteer Award, which recognizes volunteers at schools nationwide.
The school received a $500 grant on Millar’s behalf from PTO Today magazine and Savings Bank Life Insurance Co. of Massachusetts.
The grant funded the program for the 2011-12 school year. The program typically has a $500 or $600 budget that comes from donations and fundraising. Millar said the money pays for art supplies for the students.
She believes art is a vital part of a well-rounded education.
“It’s an important part for kids to get cultural literacy and for parents to bring it in,” Millar said. “Last year we probably taught over 100 lessons.”
On Friday, Millar — who personally teaches art lessons once a month — was in the sixth-grade classroom of Kim Fetterman, teaching the works of Gustav Klimt to her son’s class.
They focused on Klimt’s “The Tree of Life,” a painting of a tree that has spiraling branches and roots deep in the soil, symbolizing a link between heaven and Earth.
During each of her classes, Millar starts with a brief slideshow about the featured artist before she has students dive into their own projects.
“I think it’s amazing,” Fetterman said, as she watched Millar in action. “She gives a little background and then they (students) create their own vision. They love it.”
Fetterman said art lessons often revolve around the classroom curriculum. While one class was studying ancient Egypt, Millar taught a lesson that included hieroglyphics.
Many students beamed with pride Friday as they worked on their projects and talked about the class.
“I like how we do new things all the time,” said 11-year-old Simran Khahira. “Every time we learn about another person and we get a view of that person’s view of art.”
As each lesson concludes, students put their art into individual portfolios, Millar said. At the end of the school year, they pick through their portfolios to choose which pieces they want to display in the school’s art show.
Principal Jeanine Wilson called the program “phenomenal.”
“It’s definitely effective for the children,” she said. “It increases their knowledge of art, and it incorporates the curriculum in the classroom. It takes on a new level of art in the class versus the traditional (art class). It’s a wonderful program.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.