Discovering the Power of Story: Kearny Elementary

Capturing the El Otro Lado experience in the schools can be difficult. An emerging experience that grows over the course of the school year, it is individual and yet, it is universal. Every one comes to the classroom with their own stories, but as the teachers, teaching artists, and young minds deepen their understanding of themselves and explore their sense of belonging, a community is formed.

We asked each of this years’ Teaching Artists to reflect on the first semester in EOL and their words were shared with students, families, and the school community. Now we would like to share them with you:

Walking up to the school, prepared with an art project and hopefully showing up with enough energy to match the class, I am ready to start and not attached to what will happen. My bags are full of crayons, markers and colored paper. A smile greets me at the front desk, and they let me in to make the walk down to Ms. Hart’s class. As I walk through the halls I can feel my own excitement building; it’s helpful that I’m usually greeted by a very loud and enthusiastic, “Ms. Amber!” It’s easily one of the best starts to a typical day.

The beginning of this journey with these 4th graders has been about building relationships, having some laughs and sharing; and less about making something that anyone else would call “art”. Slowly, over these last few weeks, I can say with a smile that we’ve gotten to know each other – to trust that we can share and create with each other. It is awesome.

I’m lucky to be part of this group and the last project we worked on really highlighted that for me. We talked about hopes and dreams, and I invited them to create an image about these two ideas. What they came up with and what they wanted to share with me was really touching. I hope you get a chance to see just how creative and great their ideas are. I am certainly lucky to be there when it happens.

Amber Johnson
Teaching Artist