Ready, set … artist in residence!


Arts enrichment at Hawthorne Elementary School has kicked up a notch, thanks to an artist-in-residence program that started with kindergartners and will roll up to the upper grades in 2015.

Karen Harp-Reed, a veteran Powerful Schools teacher with more than 30 years experience in the classroom, worked closely with our three kindergarten teachers to develop her lessons focused on positional words, gross motor skills and respecting personal boundaries — all foundational skills in the performing arts.

“Spatial awareness is a huge thing in theater, music and dance — math, too!” Karen says. “As children move their bodies around and play with kinesthetic words like above, below and in between, they start grasping the fundamentals of addition and subtraction in three dimensions.”

Karen’s residency with kindergartners included eight 40-minute classes, culminating in performances that each class gave to their kindergarten peers. In 2015, Powerful Schools artists in residence will work with first-, second- and fifth-graders. Macha Monkey Productions — a nonprofit theater group that’s taught playwriting and performing arts at Hawthorne for years — will work with third- and and fourth-graders.

Most teachers have asked their artists in residence to zero in on the performing arts, complementing the visual arts focus of Hawthorne Art Teacher Eileen Simons. A visual artist will work with second-graders, supporting a STEAM (Science Engineering Technology Arts and Math) project in which students will engineer a toy or game, design packaging and advertising to promote it.

Great thanks to the many generous donors who raised the paddle at Friends of Hawthorne PTA’s 2014 Auction to fund our 2014-15 artists in residence. And kudos galore to kindergarten parent and Friends of Hawthorne PTA volunteer Marita Grunfeld for working tirelessly to get this program going.