Community Connection: Close Collaborations

One of my favorite things about my job at the DMA is the opportunity to work closely with teachers and students over an extended period of time.  Over the last three months, I’ve worked with Shawna Bateman and Daniel Hall through the Thriving Minds After School Program.  During this process, I gained valuable knowledge about the after school environment, which is immensly different than during-school hours.  An extra bonus for me was getting to know these two very interesting people: Daniel performs regularly with a variety of musicians and bands who collaborate in The Dallas Family Band, and Shawna shared an incredible found object sculpture she had made years ago to connect with one of the after school program activities.
 
What are you learning from your experiences in the Thriving Minds After School Program?

Daniel:  I’ve learned that when working with kids, things don’t always go as you planned.  That’s not always a bad thing –  you’re able to see art and teaching in different ways than you would have normally imagined, based on the responses of the kids and the way things flow in the classroom.

Shawna:  The biggest thing I’ve learned is how important arts education is for children.  We have a great need for arts education, and the arts are often the first thing that goes with budget cuts.

What do you do outside of the after school program, and how does that inform your work with students?

Daniel:  I’m a performing musician and artist, so I’m teaching kids about things I know and actually do.  I spend just as much – if not more – time practicing the discipline I teach, as opposed to a chemistry teacher who might spend all their time in classroom and little time working directly with chemicals.

Daniel, far left, performs with The Dallas Family Band outside the Flaming Lips concert during NX35 Conferette in March 2010.

Shawna:  I hike, read, and catch dragonflies.  I also paint and make jewelry, which allows me to talk with students about creating things on a level they can relate to.  A lot of times, kids think of art as something that someone else does. 

Shawna sits in her favorite park, thinking.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Daniel:  I don’t typically like to think in concrete terms for the future, but I will say that I’ll be playing music for the rest of my life. Five years from now, I’ll still be a practicing musician and artist.  The way that will work itself out is entirely unknown, and I’m not going to worry about that.

Shawna:  On the top of a mountain with a lovely hat.

Do you want to share any memorable experiences with the after school program this year?

Daniel:  There are always funny things that kids say that make for hours of conversations with my friends later.

Shawna: I really loved hearing that the kids would not stop talking about the artist.  Not only did they absorb what I taught them, but they were excited to use that information.  [Shawna’s students visited the DMA and viewed the artworks they discussed in the classroom.  The group leader told Shawna that she had to adjust the timing of their visit because the students wanted to tell her everything they remembered about the artist.]


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