SHARP has been continuing our expansion of programming and activities in Waukesha County. Earlier this year, students from La Casa de Esperanza, Banting, Summit View and Whittier Elementary Schools worked with artist Sally Duback to create a Waukesha-themed mural that is now on display at Carroll University.
This spring, SHARP Guide and illustrator Sarah Luther facilitated Young Authors Workshops with 3rd grade students at Banting, Summit View and Whittier Elementary Schools. The workshop was organized into 5 one-hour sessions. After students learned about field guides (books that typically help readers identify things in the natural environment) they then learned about Sarah Luther’s personal art practice of creating urban field guides. After exploring a wide variety of field guides and understanding the style of that type of book and illustration, the students then created their own field guide about Waukesha from their personal point of view. Some of the students’ field guide illustrations will be professionally published in the Discover Waukesha book.
Sarah shares, “I am proud of the process SHARP has developed for creating this book. They’ve allowed time and space for students to not just give input, but to engage in creative projects about Waukesha, which gives us a rich pool of inspiration for topics that we know will be relevant to 3rd graders, as well as quality student work to showcase inside the book.”
Many of the students had never heard of a field guide before and were excited to learn about a new type of book. They had a lot of fun looking at examples of different kinds of field guides during the first workshop.
Students were also excited about mapping their city and neighborhood. They were able to seamlessly integrate technology into this process – looking up different locations on google maps – zooming in and out between street view and satellite view to orient themselves, and then translating what they found into drawings. Sarah was impressed with how creatively they approached this aspect of the workshops and noted that she thought the students were surprised to have a whole book completed by the end of the process!
A Milwaukee resident, Sarah shares what she learned about Waukesha, “I went in with very little background information about Waukesha, so I learned a ton about the history of Waukesha through students’ illustrations and writings. I also got to know what it’s like to live in Waukesha TODAY! I got a great snapshot of what topics or aspects of Waukesha are important to young people growing up there. One discovery that amazed me was the huge number of neighborhood playgrounds and parks young people have access to in Waukesha!”
The next step is for author Dr. Pilar Melero to use input from these student workshops to shape her draft of the Discover Waukesha book, and visit again with the students to obtain additional information. Dr. Melero has long and deep connections to the Waukesha community and will also be working with Luther, Marisa Riepenhoff, SHARP VP of Education and Daryl Johnson, SHARP Director of Arts Integration to develop the continuing Young Authors Workshop for Spring 2019. This workshop will provide additional ideas to be incorporated in the book design process. The final draft is anticipated for August 2019 with publication by Quad/Graphics in December 2019 and distribution to students in January 2020.
Dr. Melero is a professor, researcher, writer and journalist. She has published two books, From Mythic Rocks. Voces del Malpais (Fiction) and La Casa de Esperanza. A History. The latter is the first written account of the history of Latinas in Southeastern Wisconsin. Her short stories, poetry, and research have appeared in journals and books in the U.S. and Mexico. She has a BA in journalism from UW-Whitewater; and has worked as a journalist for newspapers in Wisconsin and Texas. She was a community columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for seven years. She has an MA in Spanish from the University of Texas at El Paso, and a PhD in Contemporary Latin American Literature from UW-Madison.
Marisa Riepenhoff visited with Melissa Yow, Director of Elementary Learning, School District of Waukesha. Asked what she wants to see from this process beside the book itself, Yow responded, “I would love for this to be one of the resource tools that we use across the district as a mentor text tool for our social studies curriculum at the 3rd grade level. I think there would be a lot of power in what students are studying that has been created by their peers about Waukesha where they live. They will have the opportunity to see themselves in this as they study.”
She is pleased that students are having unique experiences with people from the community. They have worked with an artist – Sally Duback – in creating the mural. Now they have worked with an illustrator to help create pictures for the book. And next a different group of students will have that experience with an author. Yow is very excited that SHARP has engaged an author who is culturally diverse and speaks more than one language – this is an asset for all the students.
She also noted that it is a great benefit for students to see something bigger than just their classroom. “A process like this allows them to go out into the community and leaves a lasting impact. With the mural and the books, they will be able to see their impact for years to come. It teaches them that you don’t have to wait until you are an adult to create something that has an impact greater than you.”
Yow believes that teachers and the community also reap benefits from this, “Education must be bigger than our classroom and our school building. This (project) has allowed local schools to network in our community with SHARP, Carroll University, artists, authors and illustrators. For the families in the community who do not have school-aged children, this showcases what is happening in the education world and connects those people to schools. It demonstrates hope for the future.”