TORI J. NORRIS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
Fifth and sixth grade students at McKenzie school spent several weeks incorporating art into their social studies class. This was due to the efforts of their teacher applying for and receiving a grant.
Mary Cathryn Gunter, an elementary teacher at McKenzie School, applied for a grant through the Alabama State Council on the Arts in order to incorporate art as an essential element in the educational purpose for the students.
“Stacey Edwards, a former art teacher in Butler County Schools, told me about the art grant,” said Gunter. “I was taking an art class at my church this summer and she mentioned her collaboration with Greenville Elementary last year and I knew I wanted her to come to McKenzie and work with my students.”
Through the addition of art to the curriculum, students engaged in various forms of art during the weeks. “They made papier Mache pieces, paintings and drawings,” said Gunter. “They even interviewed a local community member who lived through the Great Depression.”
“The grant has made a huge impact in the education of our students,” said McKenzie principal, Miles Brown.
“The students gained an appreciation for art,” said Gunter. “This provided them an opportunity that I normally could not offer them in the classroom, despite my greatest efforts. Incorporating art into the social studies content area was brilliant. The students were more engaged in the content material and the art made it come alive for them.”
Gunter and Edwards collaborated together to make the curriculum run smoothly. “Mrs. Edwards was all in on this project and she really did her homework,” said Gunter. “She brought a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to the classroom and the two of us paired together was fantastic.”
Gunter hopes to be able to incorporate art into her future classes as well. “I am excited to apply for this grant again in the future,” said Gunter. “I genuinely learned a lot from this experience myself and I have been working to continue to integrate art into our lessons as much as possible. My view of the importance of art in the classroom has jumped leaps and bounds after seeing first-hand how much my students gained from it. They were engaged and excited each and every day. I can only imagine how fantastic our school system could be if this was the norm.”